North Korea has announced plans to launch a satellite between November 22 and December 1, which could be its third attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit. Japanese and South Korean officials believe that this is an escalation of North Korea’s efforts to expand its military capabilities.
Japan’s coast guard has been notified by North Korea about the upcoming launch in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea. South Korea’s National Maritime Safety Agency has issued a warning to ships in the same areas as previous launches earlier this year. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the plans and announced that Japan’s defense systems are ready for any “unexpected situation”. He also stated that the use of missile technology for launching a satellite violates several United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Kishida said that Japan will work with the United States, South Korea, and others to persuade North Korea to abandon its plans. South Korea’s defense ministry is closely monitoring North Korea’s activities and has expressed concern about the potential threat posed by a fleet of spy satellites. The planned launch comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a Russian spaceport in September, where he received support from Russian President Vladimir Putin to build Pyongyang’s satellite capability.
North Korea sees strengthening its military power as a sovereign right and a response to US-led space surveillance systems. Spy satellites are seen as key components of upgrading North Korean weapons capabilities. This upcoming launch will be the first since September when Kim Jong Un visited Russia and secured Putin’s backing for building Pyongyang’s satellite program. Meanwhile, South Korea is also planning to launch its first reconnaissance satellite on November 30 from California with US help.