Kim Jong Un has urged North Korean scientists to start work on new and sophisticated rockets, some three weeks after they successfully launched their first satellite.
At a recent banquet in honor of all those who worked on the Dec. 12 launch, the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency reports, Kim instructed technicians use the same "spirit and stamina" to develop more advanced satellites and "carrier rockets of bigger capacity."
He said the regime "pays deep attention" to developing its space technology, "and regards the possession of satellites and carrier rockets as an important issue in building a great prosperous and powerful nation."
Pyongyang's space agency has already mastered the crucial steps, according to Kim: he said the satellite currently in orbit – named Kwangmyongsong 3-2 – was made 100 percent in North Korea.
He effusively congratulated the scientists on their first successful effort, which he said had demonstrated North Korea's "independent and legitimate right to use space for peaceful purpose."
Most other countries would disagree. Everyone from South Korea and the US to Russia and the UN has criticized the launch, which many suspect was really a test for long-range ballistic missile technology.
Some expect North Korea to engage in further provocations sooner rather than later. According to Seoul's Korea Times, experts on the region say North Korea typically carries out "acts of violence" whenever a new South Korean government comes to power (elections were held there on Wednesday).
While Pyongyang has previously until waited several months after the vote, "there is a possibility that this could take place earlier than expected," the Times quotes Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies with the US Council of Foreign Relations, as saying.
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