North Korea says it successfully placed spy satellite into orbit, plans more

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un bids farewell to Russian President Vladimir Putin as he departs from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia on September 13. Putin told Russian media that his country would help North Korea build satellites. File Photo by KCNA

SEOUL, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- North Korea said Wednesday it has successfully placed a spy satellite into orbit and will launch several more satellites "in a short span of time" to step up its surveillance capability on South Korea.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said the North launched a reconnaissance satellite called Malligyong-1 on a Chollima-1 rocket from a launch site in Tongchang-ri on the country's west coast at 10:42 p.m. Tuesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Uun observed the launch at the site and congratulated officials, scientists and technicians associated with the launch preparations, according to KCNA.

"The carrier rocket 'Chollima-1' flew normally along the preset flight track and accurately put the reconnaissance satellite 'Malligyong-1' on its orbit at 22:54:13, 705s after the launch," KCNA said in an English-language report.

The United States condemned the launch, calling it a "brazen violation" of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and it risks destabilizing regional security.

"This space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile program," U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement, referring to North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The president and his national security team are assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners. We urge all countries to condemn this launch and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations. The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement."

North Korea defended the satellite launch as its "legitimate" right to strengthen "self-defensive capabilities" and vowed to launch several additional spy satellites "in a short span of time."

The plan will be presented at the ninth plenary meeting of the 8th Workers' Party of Korea's Central Committee, the report said, which is expected to be held later this year.

Tuesday's launch marks the North's third attempt to place a satellite into orbit following two failed launches in May and August, respectively.

The North blamed the first failed attempt on an abnormal startup of the second-stage engine, while attributing the second failure on an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage of flight.

Seoul officials said previously that North Korea could try another launch with technological assistance from Russia following Kim's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September at the Vostochny Cosmodrone in Russia's Far East.

During Kim's visit, Putin told Russian media that his country would help North Korea build satellites.

Shortly after the announcement, the United States "strongly" condemned the North's satellite launch as a "brazen" violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.