North Korea has informed Japan that it plans to launch a satellite in the coming days, in violation of UN resolutions. This will be North Korea’s third attempt to launch a military spy satellite and has already drawn criticism from neighboring countries. The country aims to operate spy satellites to counter what it perceives as escalating US-led military threats. However, its previous two attempts ended in failure due to technical issues.
Japan’s coast guard has stated that North Korea notified Tokyo of its plan, which is expected to take place between Wednesday and November 30. The coast guard also identified three maritime zones in which debris from the rocket carrying the satellite could potentially fall. North Korea has given this launch information to Japan because Japan coordinates and distributes maritime safety information in East Asia.
The notification from North Korea comes after South Korea warned them to cancel the launch or face consequences. South Korea’s military has suggested that it will suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance and live-firing drills as a response to the satellite launch.
UN Security Council resolutions prohibit any satellite launches by North Korea, as they are seen as a cover for testing missile technology. North Korea argues that it needs a space-based surveillance system to better monitor its rivals, but South Korea believes that the launches are aimed at enhancing its long-range missile program.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has requested officials to coordinate with other countries to ask North Korea to cancel the launch. He also activated Japanese destroyers carrying Aegis-class radars and PAC-3 missile defense systems on Okinawa as a precaution.
The situation has prompted senior officials from Japan, South Korea, and the US to hold trilateral phone talks and request North Korea to cancel its launch plan. South Korea and the US have condemned the launch plan, with South Korea promising to deal sternly with any illegal provocation.
After two previous launch failures, North Korea had intended to carry out a third attempt in October but failed to follow through. It is believed that the delay was due to North Korea receiving Russian technology assistance. Foreign governments and experts claim that North Korea is seeking Russian technologies to enhance its military capabilities in return for supplying conventional arms to support Russia’s activities in Ukraine.
Despite North Korea’s testing activities and satellite launches, it has not faced any additional sanctions due to Russia and China blocking attempts by the US and others to strengthen the existing sanctions.
In response to North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group have arrived at a South Korean port. This is seen as a show of readiness against North Korea. Earlier this year, the US also flew nuclear-capable bombers and deployed a nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea.