North Korea notifies Japan of satellite launch plan between Nov 22 and Dec 1
TOKYO — North Korea has notified Japan it plans to launch a rocket carrying a space satellite between Nov. 22 and Dec. 1 in the direction of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, Japan’s Coast Guard said on Tuesday.
If carried out, it would likely mark a third attempt by the nuclear-armed state this year to put a spy satellite into orbit.
North Korea has said it would try again after twice failing to launch what it called spy satellites, and South Korean officials have said in recent days that North Korea appeared set to try launching a spy satellite soon.
The launch would be the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare trip abroad in September and toured Russia’s most modern space launch center, where President Vladimir Putin promised to help Pyongyang build satellites.
North Korea’s notice also follows its denouncement on Monday of the potential U.S. sale of hundreds of missiles to Japan and South Korea, calling it a dangerous act that raises tension in the region and brings a new arms race.
In that statement, carried by the KCNA news agency, the North’s defense ministry said Pyongyang would step up measures to establish deterrence and respond to instability in the region, which it said was caused by the U.S. and its allies.
Following North Korea’s notice of the satellite launch, the Japanese prime minister’s office said on social media platform X that the country would work with the U.S., South Korea and others to “strongly urge” North Korea not to go ahead.
North Korea customarily notifies Japan of the plan to launch satellites, as does the International Maritime Organization.
South Korea’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment before business hours. North Korea has not formally announced the plan on official media.
On Monday, South Korea’s military issued a warning demanding North Korea to call off any plan to launch a satellite, which it said would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a grave act of provocation that threatens South Korea’s security.
In a statement, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military had complied with a 2018 agreement with the North not to engage in actions that raise tension but indicated it may resume some training and reconnaissance flights it had suspended under the pact.
Pyongyang has been seeking to place a military spy satellite into orbit, saying it plans a fleet of satellites to monitor moves by U.S. and South Korean troops.
North Korea has had multiple attempts to launch what it called “observation” satellites, of which two appeared to have successfully reached orbit, including one in 2016, but South Korean officials questioned whether it is transmitting any signal.
The launch, if carried out, would likely come just before South Korea’s plan to launch its first reconnaissance satellite with aid from the United States on Nov. 30 by a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from the U.S. military’s Vandenberg base.
North Korea launched a satellite on May 31 that ended up plunging into the sea. The new Chollima-1 launcher failed because of instability in the engine and fuel system, state news agency KCNA reported.
The country sought to accomplish the mission on August 24 but failed again after the rocket booster experienced a problem with its third stage.
The U.S. and its allies have called North Korea’s tests of satellite systems a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit any development of technology applicable to North Korea’s ballistic missile programs.
The North considers its space and military rocket programs a sovereign right, and analysts say spy satellites are crucial to improving the effectiveness of its weapons.