SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has concluded that Russian support likely enabled North Korea to put a spy satellite into orbit for the first time this week, and it should be clear in several days whether it is functioning properly, officials said Thursday.
The launch has deepened regional animosities, with both Koreas threatening to breach a past reconciliation deal and take hostile actions along their heavily armed border.
After two launch failures earlier this year, North Korea said it successfully placed its “Malligyong-1” satellite into orbit on Tuesday night. South Korea's military has confirmed that the satellite entered orbit, but said it needs several more days to verify whether it is working properly.
In a closed-door briefing, South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers on Thursday that Russian assistance was likely the main reason the launch was successful, according to lawmakers who attended the meeting.
The National Intelligence Service cited Russian President Vladimir Putin's earlier mention of a promise to support North Korea's satellite program. It said it also obtained intelligence that North Korea had sent Russia the design and other data for its new “Chollima-1” rocket used in the two previous failed launches. The intelligence showed that Russia returned its analysis of the North Korean data, according to lawmaker Yoo Sang-bum, who attended the NIS briefing.