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North Korea Says Test on Sunday Was a Prelude to Spy Satellite

People watch a TV showing a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 27, 2022.

North Korea says its Sunday test was part of developing a reconnaissance satellite, calling it of "great significance" but providing little detail on what kind of delivery rocket it involved.

The South Korean military said a projectile, believed to be a ballistic missile, was fired Sunday with a flight range of 300 kilometers and a maximum altitude of 620 kilometers. It left the North's Sunan area and landed in waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s state-run news agency said Monday the “important test" conducted "vertical and inclined photographing of the specific area of the ground with cameras to be loaded on satellite." It also "confirmed the characteristics of the high-resolution camera system, data transmission system and attitude control devices and the correctness of their performance."

Two images released following the launch included a satellite view of the Korean peninsula. North Korea says the test was conducted by the National Aerospace Development Administration and the Academy of Defense Sciences of North Korea.

On Sunday, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command called on Pyongyang to "refrain from further destabilizing acts." Condemning the ballistic launch, it said it is closely consulting with South Korea, Japan and other regional partners.

The development of military reconnaissance satellites was among the key goals unveiled at the 8th Party Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea in January 2021, which leader Kim Jong Un said would be operable "in the near future."

North Korea’s last satellite launch in February 2016 was condemned by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a veiled test of a long-range missile as it involves similar technologies.