SEOUL — North Korea launched a rocket Tuesday in what South Korea said was an attempt to put its first military reconnaissance satellite into orbit, this time with technological help from Russia.
The rocket flew south over the sea between the Korean Peninsula and China, the South Korean military said in a brief statement. The United States, South Korea and Japan have all put their armies on alert to guard against such a launch, fearing that debris from the North Korean rocket could fall on the territories of Asian allies. They also want to collect intelligence on the rocket to determine the implications its satellite program could have on regional stability.
North Korea launched its new Chollima-1 rocket from its satellite launch station in Tongchang-ri, near its northwest border with China, in May and again in August. The rocket followed the same trajectory south, seeking to place satellites in orbit so North Korea could better monitor U.S. and South Korean military movements in the region and improve its nuclear attack capabilities. But both times, the rockets malfunctioned and failed to orbit the Malligyong-1, the North’s first homemade military spy satellite.
This week, North Korea told the International Maritime Organization that it would soon make a third attempt. And this time, North Korea received assistance from Russia, helping it overcome its technological shortcomings, according to South Korean officials who have been following launch preparations at Tongchang-ri in recent weeks.
Moscow’s aid to Pyongyang’s troubled satellite program was part of a package of incentives North Korea was supposed to receive from Russia in exchange for the North’s supply of artillery shells and other ammunition much needed to help Russia in the war in Ukraine, South Korean officials said. said.
The North’s Tuesday launch defied multiple warnings from the United States, South Korea and Japan against such launches. Under United Nations Security Council resolutions agreed to by Moscow, North Korea is banned from launching space rockets because it had used them in the past to develop its long-range ballistic missile capabilities. The resolutions also prohibit countries from purchasing weapons from North Korea or transferring technology to help develop the North’s nuclear and rocket capabilities.
But the war in Ukraine is bringing Moscow and Pyongyang closer together, as the former Cold War allies have a common interest in confronting their common enemy, the United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has what his Russian counterpart Vladimir V. Putin desperately needs: artillery shells, rockets and other conventional munitions that can help replenish the country’s depleted weapons reserves. Mr. Putin as his invasion of Ukraine becomes a draw. -excluding war of attrition.
In return, Mr. Kim hopes to get food and fuel from Russia to help ease his country’s chronic shortages, as well as spare parts to upgrade its aging Soviet-era tanks and warplanes. North Korea also seeks technical know-how from Russia to advance its nuclear and rocket programs, which otherwise would not have been available under international sanctions, according to officials and analysts.
Moscow and Pyongyang have denied engaging in such deals. But when Mr. Kim and Mr. Putin met in the Russian Far East in September, they agreed to expand bilateral cooperation.
They released few details about the meeting, but Mr. Kim indicated what he wanted by visiting a space launch center, a fighter jet manufacturing plant and a naval base during his trip to the Far East .