North Korea has officially announced its intention to launch a satellite, potentially as early as Wednesday, despite opposition from South Korea and several UN resolutions prohibiting the country from using ballistic missile technology. This would be North Korea’s third attempt this year, following previous failures in putting a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit.
Japan’s coast guard issued a notification stating that the launch window would be between November 22 and December 1. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called on government ministries and agencies to gather information, urge cancellation of the launch in collaboration with relevant countries, and prepare for any unpredictable situations. Japan is coordinating its response with South Korea and the United States, as part of a trilateral defense agreement.
South Korea’s spy agency recently stated that North Korea was in the final stages of preparations for another launch. South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik warned that the lift-off could occur as early as this week. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff emphasized their demand for North Korea to cease preparations for the launch, warning that the military would take necessary measures to ensure the safety of its people if the launch proceeds.
Previous attempts in August and October failed. The United Nations Security Council has passed numerous resolutions calling for North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs since its first nuclear test in 2006. There are suspicions that North Korea is exchanging arms with Russia for space technology. Analysts have noted the technological overlap between space launches and the development of ballistic missiles.
If successful, the satellite launch would enhance North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly regarding South Korea, and provide crucial data in potential military conflicts. North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year, disregarding warnings from the United States, South Korea, and their allies. Last week, North Korea announced successful ground tests of a “new type” of solid-fuel engine for its banned intermediate-range ballistic missiles, citing the “grave and unstable security environment” as justification.