The South Korean military announced on Tuesday, November 21st, that North Korea has launched a military spy satellite towards the south. This comes after Pyongyang had warned Japan of an imminent launch, defying the warnings from Seoul and the UN resolutions prohibiting the use of ballistic missile technology.
Japan condemned the launch, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stating that they have strongly protested against North Korea. He emphasized that the launch of an object using ballistic missile technology, even if called a satellite, clearly violates UN resolutions. Kishida called it a significant situation that affects the security of the Japanese people and stated that they will continue to gather information and remain vigilant.
The Japanese government briefly ordered the residents of the Okinawa region, southwest of the archipelago, to seek shelter upon hearing about the launch. However, the evacuation order was lifted later.
This is not the first time North Korea has attempted to put a military satellite into orbit. After two failed attempts in May and August, Pyongyang informed Japan of its intention to launch a satellite. This move disregarded the warnings from both Seoul and the UN resolutions forbidding the use of ballistic missile technology.
Any use of ballistic missile technology would be a violation of UN resolutions, warned Fumio Kishida. He mentioned that Japan is coordinating its response with South Korea and the United States, as part of a trilateral defense agreement.
On Monday, the South Korean military warned North Korea to immediately cease preparations for the operation, stating that they would take necessary measures if needed. President Yoon Suk Yeol could suspend the September 19th military agreement, which aimed to reduce tensions along the highly secured inter-Korean border by creating maritime buffer zones, according to Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
Yang also added that it is not out of the question for Seoul to conduct medium to long-range solid-fuel ballistic missile tests. Despite international sanctions and warnings from the United States, South Korea, and their allies, North Korea has carried out an unprecedented number of missile tests this year.