UPDATE 1-North Korea’s Kim orders expansion of ICBM launch site – state media report

(Adds details, context, South Korea’s assessment of recent tests)

SEOUL, March 11 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for expanding his intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch site into a “state-of-the-art forward base” in order to become a space power, reported the state media KCNA on Friday.

Kim made the remarks during a visit to the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, which has been used to put a satellite into orbit, but also for various tests involving missile technology. These include static rocket motors and space launchers which South Korean and US officials say require technology similar to that used in ICBMs.

The KCNA report coincided with the joint announcement by South Korea and the United States that North Korea used a new ICBM in its two recent weapons tests, with the possible intention of firing it under the disguise of the launch of a space vehicle.

Kim inspected the base and ordered it to be upgraded and expanded to ensure that “various rockets could be launched to carry multi-purpose satellites, including a military reconnaissance satellite,” according to the KCNA report.

“It is the noble duty (…) to transform the launch pad, associated with our state’s great dream and ambition for space power, into a state-of-the-art advanced base and a starting line for the conquest of space for the future,” Kim said. . (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Grant McCool)

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