North Korea has issued a formal notice of a satellite launch as early as Wednesday, according to Japan. This will be Pyongyang’s third attempt to put a military satellite in orbit, with its previous attempts in May and August failing. It is speculated that North Korea received technical assistance from Russia in exchange for arms transfers, allowing them to improve their satellite capabilities. The Japanese coast guard has posted a notification of the launch window from November 22 to December 1, while South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has issued a navigation warning for ships in the area.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has instructed the relevant government ministries and agencies to keep the public informed about the launch and to prepare for any unpredictable situations. He stressed that any use of ballistic missile technology by North Korea would be a violation of UN resolutions. Japan is coordinating its response with South Korea and the United States, its partners in a trilateral defense arrangement. North Korea has identified three maritime zones that could potentially be impacted by the launch.
South Korea has been warning for weeks that North Korea is in the “final stages” of preparation for another satellite launch. Defense Minister Shin Won-sik stated that the lift-off could occur as early as this week. South Korea has sternly warned North Korea to cancel the launch and has vowed to take necessary measures to protect the safety of its people if the launch proceeds.
Successfully putting a spy satellite into orbit would improve North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, especially over South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict. North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year, defying warnings from the United States and its allies. South Korea, the United States, and Japan have increased their defense cooperation in response to North Korea’s provocations. Recently, the USS Carl Vinson, a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, arrived in South Korea to enhance the allies’ posture in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.