The Korea Herald

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North notifies of satellite launch amid concerns

By Choi Si-young

Published : Nov. 21, 2023 - 15:31

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Clockwise from top left: The US, Japanese and South Korean flags. (123rf) Clockwise from top left: The US, Japanese and South Korean flags. (123rf)

North Korea on Tuesday notified Japan that its satellite launch would take place between Nov. 22 and Dec. 1 in a third attempt this year, amid concerns that Pyongyang is seeking to advance the country’s weapons technologies.

The notice prompted immediate protest from chief nuclear envoys from South Korea, the US and Japan. In a phone call, Kim Gunn -- special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs -- was joined by his US and Japanese counterparts in urging the North to cancel the launch. Jung Pak, deputy of Kim’s US counterpart Sung Kim, and Hiroyuki Namazu took part in the call.

The three envoys called the launch a breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions to ban the use of ballistic missile technology.

“Even if the launch is aimed at putting a satellite into orbit,” the North’s attempt would be in violation of the UN rule, the three envoys were quoted as saying by a local report.

As with two previous times, Japan received the notice detailing the launch, which would fly over the West Sea and the East China Sea. Tokyo is the coordinating authority for the International Maritime Organization for those waters.

A day earlier, South Korea said it would take action should North Korea press ahead. Seoul suggested suspending an inter-Korean military pact that called for demining the Demilitarized Zone. Pyongyang has been in violation of the agreement since 2020 with its missile and drone launches, the South’s military said, noting the National Security Council has the power to do so.

Given the assessment on the previous rocket failures, military officials in Seoul believe technologies inside a North Korean spy satellite would be rudimentary.

But an arms deal the North is accused of having sealed with Russia in return for weapon supplies to Moscow has increasingly alarmed both Seoul and Washington. The two allies say arms transfers had taken place, with Russia potentially restocking supplies for its war in Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the claims.

“We will continue to monitor them closely and take whatever actions are appropriate with our allies in the region to monitor and respond to North Korea’s destabilizing behavior,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Monday, adding he would have to check if the US was informed of the launch.

Meanwhile, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier arrived at a port in Busan, a scheduled trip meant to underscore a defense strategy using the US nucler umbrella to deter a North Korean strike.

For long, Pyongyang has said it has a sovereign right to run its space programs, which analysts say could be a cover for improving missile technology and its nuclear arsenal.

South Korea is planning to launch its first military reconnaissance satellite on Nov. 30, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.