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North Korea holds ‘satellite’ test as South’s election nears

People watch a television at the Seoul Railway Station showing a file image of a North Korean missile launch, on Jan. 5, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. North Korea launched another test missile, officials said Sunday, March 6, 2022.(Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images/TNS)

North Korea said it conducted another reconnaissance satellite test, launching its second rocket with ballistic missile capability in less than a week as global attention focuses on the Ukraine crisis and South Korea prepares for elections.

North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration and the Academy of Defense Science conducted an “important test on Saturday under the plan of developing a reconnaissance satellite,” its official Korean Central News Agency said Sunday.

The launch was involved in the testing of data transmission and reception, control command and other ground-based control systems, the state news agency said.

North Korea has long said it’s entitled under international law to have a civilian space program but the U.S. and others have accused Pyongyang of using a satellite program as a cover to bolster its ballistic missiles for the military.

South Korea said its neighbor to the north fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile from an area near Pyongyang’s international airport at 8:48 a.m. Saturday toward the sea off the country’s eastern coast. The projectile flew about 270 kilometers (168 miles) and reached an altitude of around 560 km.

The U.S.-Indo Pacific Command and the South’s presidential office condemned the latest launch, urging Pyongyang to refrain from making additional provocations.

North Korea last fired off a rocket Feb. 27, which Pyongyang claimed a day later was a reconnaissance satellite test.

North Korea often uses its provocations for political purposes. The latest launch comes days before South Koreans go to the polls to elect a new leader to replace President Moon Jae-in and as the Biden administration grapples with one of its greatest international challenges — the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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