North Korea has notified Japan that it intends to launch a rocket carrying a space satellite between November 22 and December 1 towards the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, according to the Japanese Coast Guard. If successful, this would be North Korea’s third attempt this year to put a spy satellite into orbit. The previous attempts had failed, but North Korea has stated its determination to try again. South Korean officials also believe that North Korea is preparing for a satellite launch in the near future.
This planned launch comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia’s space launch center in September, where President Vladimir Putin offered assistance to Pyongyang in satellite development. In response to the potential US sale of missiles to Japan and South Korea, North Korea denounced it as a dangerous act that escalates tension and triggers a new arms race. The North Korean defense ministry also stated that it would take measures to establish deterrence and address regional instability caused by the US and its allies.
In response to North Korea’s announcement, Japan’s Prime Minister office emphasized the importance of cooperation with the US, South Korea, and other partners to strongly discourage North Korea from proceeding with the satellite launch. South Korea’s defense ministry has yet to provide a comment on the matter.
If carried out, this launch would violate UN Security Council resolutions and potentially threaten South Korea’s security. South Korea’s military has warned North Korea to cancel its satellite launch plans, and South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that they may resume some training and reconnaissance flights suspended under a previous agreement with North Korea.
North Korea has previously attempted to launch “observation” satellites, with mixed success. While some satellites have reached orbit, doubts remain about their functionality. Analysts argue that spy satellites are crucial for North Korea to enhance the effectiveness of its weapons. The launch is scheduled just before South Korea’s plan to launch its first reconnaissance satellite on November 30 with aid from the US. The US and its allies consider North Korea’s satellite programs a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. However, North Korea asserts that its space and military satellite programs are its sovereign rights.