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Kim Prepares Satellite Surprise: A Welcome Gift for Trump?

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to be accelerating the development of a rocket capable of carrying a military reconnaissance satellite. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), this initiative may be intended as a strategic bargaining chip, especially if former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House. The timing and motivation behind Kim’s actions suggest a calculated move to position himself advantageously for future negotiations with Trump, should he secure the presidency in the upcoming 2024 election.

The Significance of the Rocket Development

Kim Jong Un’s latest efforts to advance North Korea’s satellite launch capabilities come in the wake of a failed attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit. Despite this setback, the Washington-based think tank CSIS emphasizes that such failures are not uncommon in the process of refining launch technology. North Korea’s determination to develop a reliable satellite launch vehicle (SLV) by next year demonstrates a strategic long-term vision.

The CSIS analysis indicates that a potential deal with Trump could involve a moratorium on long-range rocket launches in exchange for sanctions relief and a de facto acceptance of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. This possible negotiation strategy reflects a continuation of Kim’s pragmatic approach to international diplomacy, leveraging military advancements to gain political and economic concessions.

Trump’s Relationship with Kim: A Historical Context

During his presidency, Trump held three meetings with Kim Jong Un, marking an unprecedented level of engagement between the U.S. and North Korean leaders. These meetings were part of Trump’s broader efforts to address North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Throughout his 2024 presidential campaign, Trump has consistently spoken highly of his relationship with Kim, highlighting the “very beautiful” transition from initial hostility to mutual understanding.

Trump’s admiration for Kim is not a new phenomenon. Since his first presidential campaign in 2016, Trump has frequently expressed positive views about authoritarian leaders, including Kim Jong Un. Trump’s rhetoric often emphasizes his respect for strong, decisive leadership, a quality he attributes to Kim. For instance, in a 2018 interview, Trump described Kim as “open,” “honorable,” and “a pretty smart cookie,” underscoring his belief in Kim’s leadership capabilities.

North Korea’s Satellite Launch Ambitions

North Korea’s commitment to launching military reconnaissance satellites is a critical component of its broader strategic goals. After a successful satellite launch in November last year, Kim has pledged to launch three more satellites this year. Despite technical challenges and international condemnation, North Korea’s perseverance in this area is evident.

The recent failure of the new satellite-carrying rocket, attributed to engine problems, is a part of the iterative process of refining launch technology. The Chollima-1 SLV, used in the failed launch, is believed to have undergone modifications aimed at improving its reliability. CSIS notes that if North Korea can successfully navigate through its next launches and address the technical shortcomings, it is likely to achieve a dependable SLV by next year.

International Reactions and Implications

The United States, Japan, and South Korea have all condemned North Korea’s latest SLV launch attempts, citing violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller reiterated the U.S. stance against North Korea’s defiance of international bans on ballistic missile technology tests.

Despite international pressure, North Korea continues to pursue its satellite launch program, viewing it as a critical step toward enhancing its military reconnaissance capabilities. This persistence highlights the regime’s focus on achieving strategic self-reliance and bolstering its bargaining position on the global stage.

Rocket development

Kim Jong Un’s expedited rocket development program is a strategic maneuver aimed at strengthening his negotiating power, particularly in anticipation of Donald Trump potentially returning to the White House. This calculated approach reflects Kim’s understanding of the international political landscape and his readiness to leverage technological advancements for political and economic gains. As North Korea continues its efforts to refine its satellite launch capabilities, the international community remains vigilant, balancing condemnation with strategic considerations of how to address this evolving challenge.

Saeed Minhas
Saeed Minhas
Saeed Minhas is an accomplished journalist with extensive experience in the field. He has held prominent positions such as Editor at Daily Times and Daily Duniya. Currently, he serves as the Chief Editor (National) at The Think Tank Journal

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