North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite into orbit in the coming week, according to a South Korean official. Seoul has demanded that Pyongyang halt the launch, which it sees as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Kang Ho-pil, chief director of operations at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned North Korea to immediately stop the preparations. The South Korean military will take necessary measures to protect its people if North Korea proceeds with the launch. The North Korean launch could occur before South Korea’s planned launch of its own spy satellite on November 30.
While South Korean officials have deemed a North Korean spy satellite to be rudimentary, it could assist Pyongyang in refining its target lists for new missiles designed to deliver nuclear strikes in South Korea and Japan. Both countries host the majority of the US military personnel in the region. North Korea previously attempted to launch a spy satellite on May 31 but experienced a failure during flight. The wreckage was salvaged by South Korea, providing valuable insights into North Korean rocket technology.
Additionally, North Korea tried and failed to put a spy satellite into orbit on August 24, citing trouble with its third stage. Following the failed attempts, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia in September for talks with President Vladimir Putin, who pledged support for North Korea’s space program. The US has accused Kim’s regime of providing weapons to aid Putin in his war on Ukraine.
North Korea is prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions from conducting ballistic missile tests. The US and its allies have warned that technology derived from North Korea’s space program could advance its ballistic missile capabilities. The US has also cautioned against Russia’s assistance to North Korea, as it would violate approved measures. North Korea and Russia have denied the claims of arms transfers.
In related news, a North Korean official criticized Japan’s plan to purchase Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US. Japan aims to enhance its countermeasures against North Korea’s military and address other regional security threats with the missiles.