North Korea has announced its intention to launch a spy satellite, following two unsuccessful attempts earlier this year. The country has formally notified Japan that the launch will take place before December 2, prompting both Japan and South Korea to issue maritime warnings in the surrounding areas. While Japan is considered one of North Korea’s primary enemies, it is also the coordinating authority for the International Maritime Organization overseeing the waters where the satellite launch will occur.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed opposition to the plan, stating that using ballistic missile technology for satellite launches violates a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions and poses a significant threat to national security. Japan and South Korea, along with the US naval presence of the USS Carl Vinson, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, stationed in South Korea’s naval base in Busan, will be on high alert ahead of the launch. The three nations will work together to “strongly urge” North Korea to cancel the launch.
South Korea has been anticipating the satellite launch for weeks and has warned North Korea that it would violate a 2018 agreement aimed at de-escalating tensions. South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff chief director of operations, Kang Ho-pil, stated that if North Korea goes ahead with the launch despite the warning, the South Korean military will take necessary measures to protect its people.
The success of the satellite launch is uncertain as North Korea has had two failed attempts this year. Analysts speculate that North Korea may have received assistance from Russia, following a visit by its leader, Kim Jong Un, to President Vladimir Putin in September. It is believed that Kim offered ammunition to Russia in exchange for help with their satellite program.
Developing a spy satellite is crucial to Kim Jong Un’s plan to modernize North Korea’s military and enhance its capabilities. The country aspires to have a fleet of satellites to monitor the movements of US and South Korean troops in the region. In a separate effort, South Korea plans to launch its own satellite from California on November 30 with assistance from the United States.