North Korea Claims Spy Satellite Took Photos of White House

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(Bloomberg) -- North Korea claimed its first spy satellite put into space, which was launched into orbit last week, has taken photos of the White House, Pentagon and nearby US naval stations.

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The prominent US sites add to a list of areas North Korea claims to have photographed using its reconnaissance probe that was launched on Nov. 21. The state’s official media said leader Kim Jong Un has seen the latest images along with previous photos of Rome, Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, Pearl Harbor and the US Navy’s Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.

South Korea salvaged one of North Korea’s spy satellites after a failed launch earlier this year and concluded the technology had little value as a reconnaissance probe. While Seoul believes any North Korean satellite would be rudimentary at best, such technology could help Kim’s regime in its targeting as it steps up its ability to deliver a nuclear strike.

Read: South Korea Salvages North’s Satellite in Intelligence Win

North Korea had said the satellite would formally start its reconnaissance mission from Dec. 1 after some fine tuning, but the official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday: “the fine-tuning process of the satellite is being hastened to end one or two days earlier.”

There has been no confirmation from the outside world on whether the satellite is fully operational and North Korea has yet to release any images taken by its new satellite.

The probe can probably take photos, but a thorough analysis is needed to see if those images would be of high enough resolution to have any military value, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Jeon Ha-kyu said at a briefing in Seoul on Tuesday.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US cannot independently verify the North Korean claim.

“We strongly condemn the DPRK for its launch of a space launch vehicle using ballistic missile technology, which is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond,” Watson said in a statement, referring to North Korea by its formal name.

North Korea has a history of bluster when it comes to satellite claims. Under the leadership of Kim Jong Il — the father of the current leader — North Korea had said it placed a satellite into orbit that was playing revolutionary songs, only to have Washington say the probe was likely at the bottom of the sea.

--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs and Shinhye Kang.

(Updates with comments from South Korea’s military in sixth paragraph.)

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