North Korea has announced its plans for a third attempt to launch a spy satellite into orbit, despite UN sanctions on ballistic missiles. The country has notified Japan that the launch could take place as early as this Wednesday. The previous two attempts this year resulted in failures, with the satellites breaking up soon after the launch. This announcement has drawn condemnation from Japan, which intends to work with allies to persuade North Korea to cancel the attempt.
South Korea has also warned North Korea against proceeding with the launch, threatening to suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance and live firing. The UN Security Council has prohibited North Korea from using ballistic missile technology, including launching satellites with rockets. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan emphasized that using ballistic missile technology for any purpose violates UN resolutions and poses a significant threat to national security.
North Korean officials have identified three maritime zones where the rocket debris may fall. The areas fall between the Korean Peninsula and China and in the Philippine Sea, which are the same as those identified in their previous attempts. Some experts suggest that North Korea’s satellite launch attempts are a cover for testing missile technology, while North Korea claims it requires a space-based surveillance system to monitor its rivals more effectively.
This planned launch comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia in September, where he toured the Vostochny cosmodrome with President Vladimir Putin. Russia had promised to assist North Korea in satellite development during the visit. South Korea is also planning its own satellite launch at the end of November, with the help of a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.
North Korea has expressed its determination to continue launching satellites despite previous failures. South Korea salvaged debris from the failed first launch and concluded that the satellite was not capable of effective military reconnaissance.