North Korea plans second spy satellite launch in coming days: Japan

Launch could take place between August 24 and 31, after May’s attempt ended in disaster.

Kim Jong Un speaking to naval officers with a ship behind.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a priority of putting a spy satellite into orbit [KCNA via Reuters]

North Korea has informed Japan it plans to launch a military satellite in the coming days, less than three months after its first effort ended in failure when the satellite crashed into the sea.

The office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Pyongyang had informed Japan of the planned launch, and that Kishida had instructed his government to work with the United States, South Korea and other nations to urge its cancellation.

We “strongly urge North Korea to exercise restraint and refrain from conducting a launch,” Kishida’s office wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Japan Coast Guard said the “satellite rocket launch” would take place between August 24 and 31, with three designated danger areas: the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and waters east of the Philippines’s Luzon island.

In May, Pyongyang launched what it described as its first military reconnaissance satellite but the new “Chollima-1” satellite launch rocket ended in failure. State news agency KCNA said that was because of instability in the engine and fuel system.

Japan, the US and South Korea condemned the launch as a breach of United Nations resolutions prohibiting the nuclear-armed state from using ballistic missile technology.

Analysts have said there is significant overlap between the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and space launch capabilities.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of a military spy satellite a priority of his military modernisation plan.

South Korea salvaged the debris from the May 31 launch in an operation involving a fleet of naval rescue ships, mine sweepers and deep-sea divers.

After analysing the parts, South Korea’s defence ministry said the satellite had “no military utility“.

The launch was North Korea’s sixth attempt to put a satellite into orbit, and the first since 2016.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies