North Korea has claimed that it has successfully launched a military spy satellite named Malligyong-1 into space. The satellite accurately entered orbit, according to state news agency KCNA. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the launch. However, the launch has drawn condemnation from neighboring countries. Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, criticized the launch as it flew over Japan’s Okinawa prefecture and towards the Pacific Ocean. The White House described it as a “brazen violation” of multiple United Nations resolutions. The Japanese government issued a brief emergency warning to residents in Okinawa to take shelter.
This is not the first attempt by North Korea to put a military satellite into orbit. Earlier this year, they had tried and failed twice. Japan had been informed that North Korea intended to make a third attempt. Prime Minister Kishida strongly condemned the launch and lodged a complaint with North Korea. He stated that using ballistic missile technology to launch a satellite is a clear violation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and a serious matter concerning the safety of Japanese citizens.
The launch happened earlier than expected, outside the nine-day window that Pyongyang had notified Japan about. The North Korean space agency confirmed that the Sohae launch facility was used for the operation. It is yet to be verified if the satellite launch was successful.
A spy satellite is highly sought after by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as it would enable monitoring of incoming attacks and greater accuracy in plotting their own attacks. However, the United Nations Security Council has banned Pyongyang from launching satellites, viewing them as a pretext to test their missile technology. South Korea plans to launch its own spy satellite by the end of November. This is the first of five spy satellites that South Korea plans to launch by 2025.