TOKYO — North Korea has informed Japan that it plans to launch a satellite in the coming days, potentially as a second attempt to put a military spy satellite into orbit. This comes three months after the country’s initial effort failed. North Korea is keen to establish a space-based surveillance system to better monitor the United States and South Korea. Following the failed launch in May, North Korea stated its intention to make a second attempt after studying what went wrong.
Japanese coast guard spokesperson Hiromune Kikuchi revealed that North Korean authorities notified Japan about the plan to launch a satellite between August 24 and the end of August 30. Although the notice did not specify the type of satellite, Kikuchi believes it could be similar to the one launched in May.
The maritime zones mentioned in North Korea’s notice that could be affected by the launch are off the Korean Peninsula’s west coast, in the East China Sea, and east of the Philippine island of Luzon. In response, Japan has issued safety warnings for vessels passing through these areas.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has instructed relevant government agencies to analyze the plan and coordinate with the United States and South Korea to urge North Korea not to proceed with the launch.
North Korea’s planned launch comes at a time when it is expected to extend its missile tests in reaction to the annual U.S.-South Korean military drills, which began on Monday. North Korea views these exercises as a rehearsal for invasion.
On Friday, the leaders of the United States, South Korea, and Japan held their first stand-alone trilateral summit at Camp David. They agreed on a set of steps to increase defense cooperation in response to North Korea’s escalating nuclear and military threats.
North Korea’s state media warned on Tuesday that the rival drills are deepening the danger of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.
Since the start of 2022, North Korea has conducted over 100 weapons tests, some involving nuclear-capable missiles. South Korea’s spy agency recently stated that North Korea is preparing to test intercontinental ballistic missiles, shorter-range nuclear-capable missiles, and a spy satellite launch.
A North Korean satellite launch would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit the country from engaging in any ballistic activities. The United States, South Korea, and others condemned the previous spy satellite launch for heightening tensions.
Despite the failed launch in May, North Korea remains determined to acquire advanced weapons systems to counter what it perceives as increasing hostility from the United States.