Threatened By EW Attack, North Korea Warns US Of ‘Declaration Of War’ If Space Assets Attacked

North Korea issued a stern warning to the US on December 2 that any interference with its satellite operations would be perceived as a declaration of war. 

The country asserted its readiness to activate defensive measures if there were any indications of an attack on its strategic assets. 

According to the reports, North Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesperson said that the nation would retaliate against any US interference in space by neutralizing American spy satellites.

The statement highlighted North Korea’s stance on protecting its sovereign territory against what it deemed as unjust and illegal attempts by the US to weaponize advanced technologies. 

Furthermore, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea vowed to take defensive action to undermine or eliminate the functionality of US spy satellites if necessary.

Mysterious Russian satellite breaks up in Earth orbit | Space
Artist’s illustration of a satellite breakup in Earth orbit. (Image credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

North Korea recently announced the successful launch of its first military spy satellite on November 21. The nation claimed the satellite transmitted images of military installations in the US mainland, Japan, and Guam. 

The country made two previous launch attempts in May and August, which proved unsuccessful in placing the satellite into orbit. 

The country also declared its intention to conduct additional spy satellite launches soon as part of its ongoing efforts to bolster its defensive capabilities. 

Following the recent success, the United States responded by imposing new sanctions on North Korea, targeting foreign individuals allegedly involved in sanctions evasion to support the nation’s weapons program.

Additionally, South Korea took action by blacklisting 11 North Koreans allegedly linked to satellite and ballistic missile development, restricting their access to financial transactions.

Meanwhile, on December 1, South Korea launched its first indigenous military spy satellite from a US military base in California. 

This accomplishment represents the culmination of Seoul’s pursuit of space-based intelligence capabilities, a strategic move in response to increasing threats from North Korea. 

US Capacity To Disable North Korean Satellites

The successful establishment of an operational military reconnaissance satellite would represent a significant and transformative development for North Korea’s intelligence capabilities. 

This achievement would mark a substantial departure from the nation’s reliance on radar systems, cyberattacks, and human intelligence sources thus far. 

However, the successful launch of North Korea’s military spy satellite has instilled concerns about the possibility of the United States disrupting the satellite’s operations.

In response to inquiries about Washington’s capability to disrupt the North Korean satellite’s reconnaissance operations, a spokesperson for the US Space Command stated that the United States can deny an adversary’s space capabilities through various means. 

The statement suggests that the United States is ready to respond to what it perceives as potential threats arising from North Korea’s progress in space-based intelligence capabilities.  

Airmen from the 4th Space Control Squadron take a picture in front of the Counter Communications System Block 10.2 on March 12 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The 4th SPCS received the B10.2 from the Space and Missile Systems Center on Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., making it the first offensive weapon system assigned to the United States Space Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Bertain)

Yet, North Korea’s apprehensions are justified as the United States, equipped with advanced capabilities in counter-space and communications electronic warfare (EW), presents a significant and formidable challenge for the country.  

The US military possesses a range of sophisticated electronic warfare (EW) capabilities that can potentially disrupt enemy satellite operations. For instance, the US military can disturb the communication signals of enemy satellites, hindering their ability to send or receive data effectively. 

It also can interfere with satellite navigation signals, disrupting the accuracy of the satellite’s positioning and navigation systems. 

The sole acknowledged counter-space weapon within the US arsenal is the Counter Communications System (CCS). This mobile radio frequency jammer has undergone continuous upgrades for the past two decades.

Furthermore, the United States allocates significant resources to gather and analyze signals intelligence. This process includes intercepting, deciphering, and leveraging the electronic signals emitted by enemy satellites.

Such efforts yield valuable insights into the capabilities and activities of the targeted satellite. Besides this, directed energy weapons like high-energy lasers have the potential to harm or hinder satellites. 

These weapons can be utilized to physically impair the components of a North Korean satellite, which includes its electronic systems, among other functionalities. 

Moreover, the United States has developed and tested anti-satellite weapons capable of physically destroying or disabling satellites in orbit. This capability may entail using kinetic kill vehicles or other advanced technologies.