Seoul’s military said on Tuesday said that North Korea fired what it claims is a military spy satellite. The statement comes hours after Japan confirmed that Pyongyang had warned it of an expected launch.
Earlier in May and August, North Korea’s efforts to put a spy satellite into orbit failed, following which Seoul, Tokyo and Washington warned Pyongyang to not proceed with another launch, as that would violate successive rounds of UN resolutions.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff as quoted by AFP said, “North Korea has fired what it claims is a military surveillance satellite in a southwards direction.”
The satellite’s launch was also confirmed by Japan as the Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office posted on X saying, “North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile.”
As per experts, space launches and ballistic missiles have significant technological overlap and Pyongyang is barred by UN resolutions from any tests involving ballistic technology.
Experts have also suggested that North Korea’s success in putting a spy satellite into orbit would improve their intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over South Korea, and help them procure crucial data in any military conflict.
As per South Korean officials, Seoul also plans to launch its first spy satellite via a SpaceX rocket later this month.
JAPAN ASKS RESIDENTS TO TAKE SHELTER
Tokyo also warned residents from the southern region of Okinawa to take shelter. However, they soon lifted the alert and said that the projectile “passed into the Pacific”.
For weeks, Seoul has been warning that Pyongyang was in the “final stages” of preparation for another spy satellite launch.
The launch came earlier than expected, as North Korea had on Tuesday informed Japan that it would launch a satellite between Wednesday and December 1.
“The launch that came hours before its time window notification seems to underscore two things: Pyongyang’s confidence in success and intention to maximise surprise factor to the outside world,” Choi Gi-il, professor of military studies at Sangji University, told AFP.
Seoul’s spy agency also warned this month that Pyongyang’s next launch effort was likely to be more successful than its first two efforts. They further claimed that the North seemed to have received technical advice from Russia, in return for sending at least 10 shipments of weapons for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in September after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that his nation could help Pyongyang build satellites.
Seoul and Washington have both subsequently claimed Pyongyang has been 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”.
(with AFP inputs)