North Korea is looking to launch its first dedicated spy satellite — a possible first step toward creating a constellation of satellites that would significantly improve its surveillance and targeting capabilities. But the road ahead will be long, experts say.

Leader Kim Jong Un was quoted Wednesday as ordering final preparations for the launch of a recently completed military reconnaissance satellite, which state-run media hinted could come later this month.

Kim described the capability as crucial for strengthening “military effectiveness” and deterrence against what he claimed was “the escalating military threat and challenge” from the U.S. and South Korea.