Representational image. Archive photo
North Korea has fired what it claims is a military spy satellite, Seoul’s armed forces said Tuesday, hours after Japan confirmed Pyongyang had warned it of an imminent launch.
North Korea’s previous attempts to put a spy satellite into orbit in May and August both failed, and Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have repeatedly warned Pyongyang not to carry out another launch, which would violate the series successive UN resolutions.
“North Korea has fired what it claims to be a military surveillance satellite toward the south,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
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Japan also confirmed the launch, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office posting on X: “North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile. »
Space launches and ballistic missiles have significant technological overlap, experts say, and U.N. resolutions bar Pyongyang from any tests involving ballistic technology.
Tokyo warned residents in the southern region of Okinawa to take shelter, but quickly lifted the alert, saying the projectile had “passed into the Pacific.”
Seoul has been saying for weeks that Pyongyang is in the “final stages” of preparations for the launch of another spy satellite.
Kang Ho-pil, chief director of operations of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that the South Korean military would take “necessary measures to ensure the lives and safety of people” if the launch used to take place.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s office suggested Tuesday that he would consider suspending the Sept. 19 military deal — a key deal aimed at defusing tensions on the peninsula — in response.
The launch took place ahead of schedule, with North Korea informing Japan on Tuesday that it would launch a satellite between Wednesday and December 1.
“The launch, which came hours before the notification deadline, seems to underline two things: Pyongyang’s confidence in success and the intention to maximize the surprise effect for the outside world,” Choi told AFP Gi-il, professor of military studies at Sangji University.
South Korea’s intelligence agency warned this month that Pyongyang’s next launch would likely be more successful than its first two efforts, with the North appearing to have received technical advice from Russia, in exchange for sending at least 10 arms shipments for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in September, after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, that his country could help Pyongyang build satellites.
Seoul and Washington both later claimed Pyongyang was shipping weapons to Russia, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning this month that military ties between North Korea and Russia were “growing and dangerous “.
Successfully orbiting a spy satellite would improve North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly on South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict, experts say.
In a commentary published Tuesday by North Korea’s official news agency, Ri Song Jin, a researcher at the National Aerospace Technology Administration, criticized South Korea’s spy satellite plans, calling them “extremely military provocations.” dangerous”.
Seoul plans to launch its first spy satellite via a SpaceX rocket later this month, South Korean officials said.
This shows that the North needs “practical and effective space reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities” as a key means to “more clearly exercise war deterrence and promote strategic security balance in the region”, KCNA said.
North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year.
Seoul, Washington and Tokyo stepped up defense cooperation in response, and on Tuesday a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, arrived at the Busan naval base in South Korea.