South Korea Reports North Korea Military Satellite Launch

In a recent development, North Korea launched a rocket on Tuesday that was confirmed by both South Korea and Japan. This was Pyongyang’s third attempt this year to put up a spy satellite. In response to the potential threat, the Japanese government issued an emergency alert to residents of the south who were advised to protect themselves from what could be a North Korean missile.

South Korea’s military said that the rocket was suspected to be carrying a spy satellite toward the south. Japan informed the residents of southern Okinawa through the J-Alert broadcasting system that North Korea had possibly launched a missile. North Korea had previously told Japan that they intended to launch a satellite between Wednesday and December 1.

The North’s notification came one day after South Korea warned North Korea to cancel its launch or face consequences. South Korea’s military suggested that Seoul would suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance and live-firing drills in response to a North Korean satellite launch.

North Korea has been prohibited by the U.N. Security Council from conducting satellite launches, considering them as disguised missile tests. North Korea contends that it requires a space-based surveillance system in order to be on the alert for its adversaries.

On the other hand, South Korea argues that North Korea’s launches are aimed at improving its long-range missile program. Eager to operate spy satellites, North Korea failed to achieve its goal twice earlier this year due to purely technical reasons. Tokyo was informed by North Korea that it now intended to launch the satellite anytime between Wednesday to November 30.

The notice identified three maritime zones in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and China, and also in the Philippine Sea where the debris of the rocket carrying the satellite could fall. Such areas are the same as the ones used in May and August for North Korea’s failed satellite launches, and it was assumed the third flight path would be similar.

The Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, urged officials to engage with other countries and request North Korea to cancel the launch. He noted that the use of ballistic missile technology for satellite launches would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a danger to people’s safety.

Senior officials from Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. agreed to cooperate in trilateral phone talks to strongly request North Korea to cancel its launch plan. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry separately called upon North Korea to withdraw the plan immediately, promising a tough response to alleged provocation.

After the second unsuccessful launch in September, North Korea had promised a third attempt in October but nothing happened, leaving some to believe the delay may be associated with assistance from Russia.

North Korea is looking for Russian technologies to improve their nuclear capabilities and conventional arms they will supply to support Russia’s war with Ukraine. This transfer contravenes U.N. Security Council resolutions that forbade supplying North Korea with weapons, however, Russia and North Korea both dismissed the alleged weapon transfer deal.

Nevertheless, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said during a visit of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un to Russia in September that Russia would help North Korea to build satellites.

Though North Korea has recently tested missiles and launched two spy satellites, no new sanctions have been applied on the state, for Russia and China have opposed the attempt of the United States and other countries to strengthen the existing sanctions.

The U.S. Carl Vinson carrier battle group arrived at a South Korean port to demonstrate readiness to any North Korean provocations amidst the growing nuclear threats. This comes after the U.S. moved a nuclear-capable bomber and a submarine nuclear armed in South Korea this year.