North Korea informed neighboring Japan on Monday that it plans to launch a satellite in the coming days, despite the United Nations forbidding it from engaging in such an activity.
The Japanese coast guard said North Korean waterways authorities revealed that the launch window was between May 31 and June 11 and that the launch could affect waters in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and east of China. island of Luzon in the Philippines.
A safety alert was issued by the Japan Coast Guard for vessels in the area on those dates due to possible dangers of falling debris. The Coast Guard coordinates and distributes maritime security intelligence in East Asia, which is most likely why it received North Korea’s warning.
In order for North Korea to launch a satellite into space, it would have to use long-range rocket technology prohibited by United Nations Security Council resolutions. Previous launches of Earth observation satellites in the country have been seen as missile tests in disguise.
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Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the launch would violate UN resolutions and pose a “threat to the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community”.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada instructed the Japan Self-Defense Force to shoot down the satellite or debris if anyone entered Japanese territory.
Matsuno said it is possible the satellite would enter or pass over the southwestern islands of Japan. This would include Okinawa, where the US has major military bases and thousands of troops.
Japan has been on standby for falling missile debris after North Korean launches earlier this year. The country has also deployed missile defense systems and ship-to-air interceptors in its southwestern region.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office said it had ordered officials to collect and analyze information related to the launch in order to inform the Japanese.
North Korean state media reported earlier this month that leader Kim Jong Un inspected a finished military spy satellite at his country’s aerospace center and approved its launch plan.
The launch notice given to Japan on Monday did not specify the type of satellite.
South Korea last week launched its first commercial-grade satellite into space, which could give it the technology and expertise to put its first military spy satellite into orbit later this year and the ability to develop more powerful missiles. According to experts, Kim would like his country to launch a spy satellite before South Korea.
North Korea put Earth observation satellites into orbit in 2012 and 2016. It does not inform neighboring countries about planned missile launches, but it has already given warnings before the satellites are launched.
Spy satellites are among several high-tech weapon systems that Kim has publicly committed to developing. The others include solid-propellant ICBMs, nuclear-powered submarines, hypersonic missiles and multi-warhead missiles.
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Since early last year, North Korea has tested more than 100 missiles, some of which were nuclear weapons at short ranges from the US mainland, South Korea and Japan. North Korea says its tests are meant as a warning about extended military exercises between the United States and South Korea.
Last week, South Korean and US militaries conducted large-scale live-fire exercises near the two countries’ border. North Korea warned on Monday that the United States and South Korea will face unspecified consequences for their “aggression war scenario.”
“We would like to ask them if they are able to cope with the consequences of their reckless and dangerous war bets that are being staged before the eyes of the armed forces of [North Korea],” the official North Korean Central News Agency said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.