North Korea has notified Japan that it is preparing for a third attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit. This launch would violate UN sanctions on ballistic missiles. The Japanese government immediately condemned the announcement and would work with allies to strongly urge North Korea to cancel the attempt. The two previous attempts this year resulted in embarrassing failures, with the satellites breaking up during the early stages of launch.
South Korea, a neighboring country, also warned North Korea against going ahead with the launch. They suggested that if the launch proceeds, they may suspend a 2018 agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance and live firing.
North Korea is prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions from using ballistic missile technology and attempting to send satellites into space. Japan’s Prime Minister stated that using ballistic missile technology for launching a satellite is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
The launch could take place anytime between November 22 and November 30. North Korean officials have identified three maritime zones where debris from the rocket may fall. The areas notified are the same as those identified for previous launch attempts in May and August.
Some experts believe that the satellite launch attempts are a cover for North Korea to test its missile technology. However, North Korea claims that it needs a space-based surveillance system to better monitor its rivals.
This potential third attempt at a satellite launch comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome in September, where he toured the space launch center with President Vladimir Putin. South Korea is also planning its own satellite launch at the end of November.
North Korea’s first two attempts at launching a spy satellite failed due to technical problems. However, they have vowed to continue trying until they achieve a successful launch.