TOKYO, Aug 22 (AP): North Korea told Japan on Tuesday it plans to launch a satellite in the coming
days, possibly a second try to put a military spy satellite into orbit three months after its first effort
failed, Japanese officials said.
In late May, a North Korean rocket carrying a spy satellite plunged into the sea soon after liftoff,
posing a setback to leader Kim Jong Un’s push to establish a space-based surveillance system to
better monitor the US and South Korea.
North Korea had vowed to make a second attempt after studying what went wrong with the first
Japan’s coast guard said North Korean authorities notified it about a plan to launch a satellite from
August 24 and the end of August 30.
Coast guard spokesperson Hiromune Kikuchi said that the notice didn’t specify what type of satellite
North Korea intends to launch but that he believes it possibly refers to one similar to the spy satellite
in the May launch.
The North Korean notice mentioned three maritime zones that could be affected by its launch — off
the Korean Peninsula’s west coast, in the East China Sea and east of the Philippine island of Luzon.
Japan issued safety warnings for vessels passing through the three areas, according to the website of
the Japanese coast guard.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed officials to do their utmost to gather and analyse
any information about the launch and to prepare for any emergencies, according to his office. He
also called for cooperation with the US, South Korea and other concerned countries to demand
North Korea not conduct the launch.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry called the North’s planned satellite launch “an illegal provocation”
because it would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban the country from committing any
launch involving ballistic activities.
A ministry statement said that South Korea will sternly deal with the North’s launch in close
coordination with the US and Japan.
The launch plan comes during annual US-South Korean military drills that began Monday. North
Korea views the regular US-South Korean military exercises as a rehearsal for invading it and is
expected to extend its provocative run of missile tests in reaction to the exercises.
The 11-day Ulchi Freedom Shield drills are computer-simulated command post training. During this
year’s training period, the US and South Korean militaries also plan more than 30 field training
On Friday, the leaders of the US, South Korea and Japan met for their first stand-alone trilateral
summit at Camp David and agreed to increase their defence cooperation to deal with North Korea’s
increasing nuclear and military threats.
Among the steps announced by the leaders were holding annual trilateral exercises and putting into
operation by year’s end the sharing of real-time missile warning data on North Korea.
North Korea’s state media warned on Tuesday that its rivals’ drills are deepening the danger of a
nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.
“If the agreements fabricated at the Camp David Resort are additionally put into practice in the war
drill …, the possibility of outbreak of a thermonuclear war on the Korean Peninsula will become
more realistic,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.
It said the current, prevailing situation is compelling North Korea to take “offensive, overwhelming”
steps, but didn’t elaborate.
On Monday, KCNA said leader Kim Jong Un had watched the test launches of strategic cruise missiles
and underscored the need to bolster efforts to modernise naval weapons systems.
Since the start of 2022, North Korea has carried out more than 100 weapons tests, some of them
involving nuclear-capable missiles designed to strike the US mainland, South Korea and Japan.
North Korea says it had no other option than to boost weapons testing activities as a response to the
expansion of US-South Korea military training. Washington and Seoul say their drills are defensive in
South Korea’s spy agency said last week that North Korea was taking steps needed for the test flights
of intercontinental ballistic missiles and shorter-range nuclear-capable missiles as well as a spy
South Korea retrieved wreckage from North Korea’s first attempt to put a spy satellite into space.
South Korea’s military said in July its study of the debris showed the satellite wasn’t advanced
enough to conduct reconnaissance from space as North Korea claimed.