North Korea is reportedly planning to launch its third spy satellite as early as midnight on Wednesday, according to Japanese media. Tokyo has been notified of a nine-day window for the launch, which ends on November 30th. Both Japan and South Korea are working together to discourage North Korea from proceeding with the launch, as it would violate UN resolutions. North Korea has previously made two unsuccessful attempts this year to launch a spy satellite into space.
The Japan Coast Guard has identified three maritime zones where debris from the rocket carrying the satellite is expected to fall. Two of these zones are located west of the Korean Peninsula, while the other is situated east of the Philippines’ island of Luzon. Should North Korea go ahead with the launch, South Korea has stated that it will take necessary measures.
While possessing a spy satellite would be advantageous for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in terms of monitoring potential attacks and enhancing accuracy for their own operations, the United Nations Security Council has prohibited North Korea from launching satellites due to concerns about their missile technology.
South Korea previously retrieved debris from North Korea’s first launch in May and concluded that the satellite had no military value. After a failed second attempt in August, North Korea boldly claimed that they would try again in October, but this did not materialize.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered assistance to Pyongyang in September, suggesting that Moscow may be able to help North Korea build their own satellites. However, the specifics of this offer remain unclear.
In a separate announcement, South Korea has announced plans to launch its own spy satellite by the end of November. This will be the first of five spy satellites that South Korea plans to launch into space by 2025, with the first satellite being carried by a rocket from US company SpaceX.