The Japanese Coast Guard has announced that North Korea has informed Tokyo of its intention to launch a satellite between November 22 and 30. The Coast Guard spokesperson, Kazuo Ogawa, identified three maritime zones where debris from the rocket carrying the satellite could potentially fall, two located between the Korean Peninsula and China, and the third in the Philippine Sea. These zones are the same as those identified by North Korea for its previous failed satellite launches in May and August, implying that the third attempt would have a similar flight trajectory. Japan received the launch information from North Korea because the Japanese Coast Guard coordinates and distributes maritime security information in East Asia.
This notification from North Korea came one day after its rival, South Korea, warned it to cancel its launch plans or face consequences. The South Korean military suggested that it would suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement aimed at reducing tensions and resume frontline air surveillance and live-fire exercises in response to a North Korean satellite launch.
The United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit any satellite launch by North Korea as they are considered cover for testing its missile technology. North Korea claims it needs a space surveillance system to better monitor its rivals, but they argue that North Korean launches also aim to bolster its long-range missile program. Over the past year, North Korea has conducted numerous missile tests as part of its efforts to modernize its nuclear-capable weapons arsenal targeting the United States and its allies. Foreign experts believe that North Korea still faces technological obstacles in developing functional nuclear-tipped missiles.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called for officials to coordinate with other countries to urge North Korea to cancel its satellite launch project. The South Korean Ministry of Unification stated on Tuesday that it had strongly urged North Korea to abandon the launch project as it would pose a serious threat to regional peace. During trilateral phone talks, senior officials from Japan, South Korea, and the United States confirmed their cooperation to “firmly ask North Korea to cancel” its launch plan, according to the Japanese foreign ministry.
The article also mentions Russia potentially providing technological assistance to North Korea for its satellite launch. North Korea and Russia have been strengthening their relations amid separate confrontations with the West – North Korea regarding its nuclear ambitions and Russia regarding its invasion of Ukraine. The transfer of technology from Russia to North Korea would violate UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit all arms trade to and from North Korea. The US State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, stated that Russia should not provide technology to North Korea that violates UN Security Council resolutions.
Despite facing previous sanctions for its weapons tests and rocket launches, North Korea has not faced new sanctions for its recent tests and two spy satellite launches, as Russia and China have blocked attempts by the US and other countries to strengthen sanctions. On Tuesday, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its strike group arrived in a South Korean port, demonstrating the allies’ firm determination to confront the growing nuclear threats from North Korea, according to the South Korean Navy.