North Korea has issued a formal notice of a satellite launch, scheduled as early as Wednesday, according to Japan. This would be North Korea’s third attempt to put a military satellite into space. Previous attempts in May and August failed, prompting warnings from South Korea, Japan, and the United States. However, North Korea has ignored these warnings and is determined to proceed with the launch. The chances of success for this attempt are higher, as North Korea is believed to have received technical assistance from Russia in exchange for weapons transfers. Japan and South Korea have condemned the launch, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida demanding its cancellation and highlighting that any use of ballistic missile technology by Pyongyang would violate UN resolutions. Japan, South Korea, and the United States are coordinating their response through their trilateral defense arrangement.
North Korea has already identified three maritime zones that may be affected by the launch. The danger zones overlap with those announced during North Korea’s previous satellite launch plan in August. South Korea’s military has been on high alert, warning that the launch could happen this week. They have stated that they will take necessary measures to ensure the safety of the people. President Yoon Suk Yeol may suspend the validity of the September 19 military agreement, a deal aimed at reducing tensions in the region. South Korea may also test their own solid-fuel ballistic missiles in response to the launch.
If successful, the satellite launch would greatly enhance North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, especially over South Korea. It would also provide crucial data in the event of a military conflict. North Korea has conducted numerous weapons tests this year and recently announced successful ground tests of a new type of solid-fuel engine for its banned intermediate-range ballistic missiles. In response, South Korea, the United States, and Japan have increased their defense cooperation. The USS Carl Vinson, a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, recently arrived in South Korea to enhance the allies’ preparedness against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.