The North Korean military has reportedly launched a projectile believed to be a spy satellite, according to South Korean military leaders. The launch occurred on Tuesday, despite North Korea previously stating to Japan that the satellite would be launched between Wednesday and December 1. South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that North Korea claimed to have launched a military surveillance satellite in a southwards direction.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also stated on social media that North Korea had launched a suspected ballistic missile. The outcome and success of the launch are currently unknown. Japan’s Coast Guard reported that the projectile traveled towards the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea.
This marks North Korea’s third attempt to launch a military spy satellite into orbit. Previous attempts in May and August failed due to technical issues. Senior diplomats from the United States, Japan, and South Korea have condemned North Korea’s satellite program and warned that such provocations would lead to increased defensive cooperation between the three countries.
South Korean intelligence believes that Russia has been assisting North Korea in its satellite programs. The South Korean Unification Ministry speculated that North Korea was likely to proceed with the launch in the coming months and suggested the possibility of Russian technical assistance.
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