North Korea announced on Tuesday that it had successfully launched a military spy satellite into orbit, sparking criticism from the White House. However, the launch could not be independently verified, and it remains unclear if a satellite was actually on board the rocket. Despite this, North Korea stated that it plans to launch more satellites in the future.
The White House reacted strongly to the news, describing the launch as a “brazen violation” of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. It expressed concerns over the use of ballistic missile technology, which raises tensions and jeopardizes regional and international security. President Biden and his national security team are closely evaluating the situation and coordinating with allies and partners.
The missile launch prompted Japan to issue an emergency warning to its citizens in Okinawa to take cover. Fortunately, the alarm was later lifted. It is worth noting that North Korea’s satellite launches are prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasizing that the use of ballistic missile technology for satellite launches is a violation.
This launch further intensifies the emerging space race between South Korea and North Korea. Both countries have announced plans to launch spy satellites by the end of November. North Korea claims that its satellite will be used to monitor the activities of the US and South Korean military in the region.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement acknowledging North Korea’s launch of a military reconnaissance satellite that passed through South Korean airspace. South Korea had previously warned North Korea against proceeding with the launch, threatening to suspend the Panmunjom Declaration, a peace agreement signed in 2018 that aimed to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
In a related development, the UK government announced a defense agreement with South Korea aimed at enforcing sanctions on North Korea. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the UK for a state visit, during which the two nations agreed to strengthen their ties. This includes joint patrols in the South China Sea to enforce sanctions against North Korea.
This is North Korea’s third attempt at launching a satellite, following failed attempts in May and August. The launch comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where Putin pledged to support the building of satellites as part of a growing partnership.
North Korea stated that it has a “sovereign right” to enhance its defense capabilities to safeguard its national security. Meanwhile, South Korea is scheduled to launch its own spy satellite in collaboration with SpaceX and the United States next week.