North Korea has informed Japan that it plans to launch a satellite between November 22 and December 1. Tokyo and Seoul believe it could be the third attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit. Japan’s coast guard said on Tuesday that North Korea had sent a notification of the launch in the direction of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea. South Korea’s National Maritime Safety Agency issued a warning to ships about the planned launch for the same areas as in the case of earlier launches.
Earlier this year, North Korea already tried twice to launch what it says are “spy satellites,” but without success. South Korean officials have warned in recent days that it appears they will try again soon. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the plans and said his country’s defense systems, including Aegis destroyers and PAC-3 air defense missiles, were ready for any “unexpected situation.” “Even if the purpose is to launch a satellite, the use of ballistic missile technology is a violation of a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Kishida told reporters. “It is also an issue that greatly affects national security,” he added. Japan will work with the United States, South Korea, and others to persuade North Korea not to resume launches, Kishida said.
The South Korean defense ministry said it was monitoring North Korea’s planned launch. North Korea plans to have a fleet of satellites to monitor the moves of US and South Korean forces. Strengthening military power is North Korea’s sovereign right and is a response to the US-led space surveillance system, state media KCNA reported on Tuesday. Analysts say spy satellites are key to the upgrade of North Korean weapons.
This is the first launch since September, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un toured a Russian cosmodrome where Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to help Pyongyang build a satellite. South Korea separately plans to launch its first reconnaissance satellite on November 30 from California with help from the United States.