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North Korea, Iran advancing counter-space threats, says USSPACECOM chief

North Korea and Iran continue to advance their counter-space threats through cyberattacks, jamming, and electronic warfare, US Army General James Dickinson, the commander of the US Space Command (USSPACECOM), said on 20 April.

In a written statement to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander said that these two countries “actively seek asymmetric approaches” to negate US power projection capabilities, having closely observed US abilities to harness the advantages from space.

Referring to North Korea, Gen Dickinson said the Northeast Asian country “maintains a threat to space operations through its electronic warfare capabilities, with an emphasis on deception operations and GPS jamming”.

The general said that the technology North Korea is using to evolve and mature their cyberattack capabilities continues to improve, along with their ability to develop more advanced long-range missile launch systems.

“One way that these less developed adversaries seek to leapfrog or negate our advantages is by leveraging commercially available capabilities. These capabilities provide them with partially effective military support that helps them to navigate, gather intelligence, communicate, and otherwise achieve competencies that until very recently were the exclusive purview of more advanced space powers,” said the commander.

In this regard, he warned that the United States “should not assume that our current qualitative advantage in these areas necessarily ensures the space superiority we previously held”.

As for Iran, Gen Dickinson said that, while the country claims to have developed sophisticated capabilities, including space launch vehicles and communication and remote sensing satellites, its “simple space launch vehicles are currently only able to launch microsatellites into low-Earth orbit”.

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