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Speculation on North Korea’s Satellite Success and Russian Assistance

North Korea’s recent claim of successfully placing its first military reconnaissance satellite, Malligyong-1, into orbit on its third attempt has sparked speculation about potential technological assistance from Russia, according to a media report. The Chollima-1 space rocket launch followed two unsuccessful attempts in May and August.

There is growing speculation that Russia may have provided North Korea with military technology in exchange for the North’s supply of military equipment and munitions for Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine. South Korea, while retrieving wreckage from the first attempt, had initially concluded that the satellite had no military use, but North Korea’s swift success has raised suspicions.

South Korean officials suggest that Russia likely provided technical support, citing a transfer of an 80-tonne liquid fuel engine from Russia to North Korea and the presence of Russian engineers after a summit between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin in September. The success of the satellite launch, if confirmed, could significantly enhance North Korea’s monitoring capabilities, raising concerns in the region.