He also underscored the need to successfully launch "more working satellites", Pyongyang's  news agency said.

Calling the scientists involved in the February 7 launch "best patriots and admirable heroes", Kim gave out medals, prizes and wristwatches bearing the names of the two late leaders of the Kim dynasty - Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.

North Korea sparked international outrage with the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite, which came just a month after its fourth nuclear test.

The launch, which most in the international community viewed as a disguised ballistic missile test, violated multiple UN resolutions banning the nuclear-armed country from the use of ballistic technology.

The United States, along with Asian allies South Korean and Japan, are spearheading efforts at the UN Security Council for a strong resolution that will impose harsh sanctions on Pyongyang over the recent nuclear test and rocket launch.

Separately, US President Barack Obama yesterday signed off on new sanctions against North Korea, aimed at anyone importing goods or technology related to weapons of mass destruction into the North, or anyone who knowingly engaged in human rights abuses there.

The measure also heaps additional financial pressure on the already-sanctioned regime by taking aim at money laundering and narcotics trafficking, two major illicit activities believed to be funnelling millions of dollars into Kim's inner circle.

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