North Korea has declared it’s got the White House in its sights thanks to its new spy satellite – which the regime says is up and running, although the West has its doubts.

Still, leader Kim Jong Un has been crowing over his new surveillance toy; and he’s been happily sharing the alleged results.

Reports put out by state media on Tuesday trumpeted a list of targets the North says it’s seen: the White House, the Pentagon and air force bases along the US north-east coast and in its Pacific territory of Guam.


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Closer to home, Pyongyang also listed South Korean military targets and its port city of Busan. Further afield and slightly more baffling: Rome.

But while the scope might at first seem impressive, there may be less to it than meets the eye.

“I will say that there are plenty of images of the Pentagon and the White House online,” said a US military official on Tuesday in response to the picture reports. “So, let’s leave it at that.”

Anyone can clap eyes on the White House these days using Google Earth and internet livestreams. The BBC tried it – a live cam of the White House was the first result on YouTube.

So what is Mr Kim playing at here? Why has he made a big deal of this and does he actually get anything useful?

To begin with, there’s still significant doubt over whether the North’s satellite is working at all. It’s been floating up there for over a week now and there’s been no independent confirmation that it’s beaming images back to Mr Kim.

The US, South Korea and Japan say only that they know it is in orbit.

And if we know one thing about the North, it’s that it is a country that “lies all the time”, says Fyodor Tertitskiy, who researches North Korean politics at Kookmin University in Seoul.

“If they say something, that is not necessarily true. Always look at the action,” says Mr Tertitskiy. Pyongyang has a history of peddling doctored images- making claims about military prowess and weapons far exceeding its actual capability- for propaganda aimed at domestic and international audiences.

The North this time has also chosen to not release the pictures it’s supposedly receiving. It might be withholding the pictorial evidence so its enemies won’t know the scope of what it’s seeing exactly.

But it has in the past released pictures it’s proud of. In 2022, it put out photos of Earth as seen from space, which the North said were taken on their most powerful missile launch in years.