Kim Yo Jong: No one can deny DPRK's right to satellite launches

Kim Yo Jong, a senior official of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said on Thursday it is her country's sovereign right to launch reconnaissance satellites in a rebuff to the U.S.'s denunciation of Pyongyang's failed launch a day earlier, state media KCNA reported.

"It is certain that military reconnaissance satellite will be correctly put on space orbit in the near future and start its mission," Kim, also DPRK leader Kim Jong Un's sister, said in an English-language statement carried by KCNA.

Her remarks came after the failure of a DPRK satellite launch on Wednesday.

KCNA reported that the Chollima-1 rocket, carrying a military reconnaissance satellite named "Malligyong-1," crashed into the sea after an accident.

KCNA also published on Thursday images of what it said was the new rocket lifting off from a coastal launch pad. The white-and-gray rocket had a bulbous nose, apparently for carrying a satellite or other cargo.

Wednesday's launch was denounced by the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan and the United States. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said any launch by Pyongyang using ballistic missile technology breaches Security Council resolutions, a spokesperson said.

In her statement, Kim said the criticisms of the launch were "self-contradiction" as the U.S. and other countries have already launched "thousands of satellites."

"The U.S. is a group of gangsters who would claim that even if the DPRK launches a satellite ... it is illegal and threatening," she said.

In a separate statement carried by KCNA, the DPRK's vice foreign minister Kim Son Gyong criticized U.S.-led military drills in the region including a multinational anti-proliferation naval drill.

(With input from Reuters)

(Cover: Kim Yo Jong, sister of DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 2, 2019. /CFP)

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