North Korea has notified Japan of its plans to launch a satellite into space between Thursday and 1 December. The trajectory of the rocket would lead it towards the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea. If successful, this would be North Korea’s third attempt this year to put a spy satellite into orbit. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan immediately condemned the announcement, stating that the use of ballistic missile technology violates UN security council resolutions and greatly affects national security. Japan has prepared its defense systems, including Aegis destroyers and PAC-3 air defense missiles, in case of any “unexpected situation”.
This launch would be the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Russia’s space launch center in September. During his visit, President Vladimir Putin promised to help Pyongyang build satellites. Japan, along with the US and South Korea, will strongly urge North Korea to abandon its plans.
North Korea has made previous attempts to launch satellites this year, but they have been unsuccessful. The country has informed Japan, as the coordinating authority for the International Maritime Organization, of its plans on all three occasions. The recent notice from North Korea comes after it denounced the potential US sale of missiles to Japan and South Korea, viewing it as a dangerous act that raises tension in the region. The North’s defense ministry said it would take measures to establish deterrence and respond to the instability caused by the US and its allies.
Pyongyang aims to place a military spy satellite into orbit as part of its plan to build a fleet of satellites to monitor the movements of US and South Korean troops. While North Korea claims to have successfully launched observation satellites in the past, doubts have been raised about their functionality. The country considers its space and military rocket programs as its sovereign right.
The potential satellite launch by North Korea is expected to occur just before South Korea’s own plan to launch its first reconnaissance satellite on 30 November. The satellite launch by South Korea is in partnership with the US and will be carried out by a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.