North Korea will try again to launch a military spy satellite in the coming days
North Korea told Japan on Tuesday that it will launch a satellite in the coming days in violation of UN resolutions, its apparent third attempt to fire a military spy satellite that drew immediate rebukes from its neighbours.
North Korea is eager to operate spy satellites to deal with what it calls escalating U.S.-led military threats. But its two previous attempts to place a spy satellite into orbit earlier this year ended in failure due to technical issues.
Japan's coast guard said North Korea notified Tokyo of its plan to launch a satellite sometime between Wednesday and Nov. 30.
The notice identified three maritime zones where debris from the rocket carrying the satellite may fall. Two are in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and China and the third in the Philippine Sea, Japanese coast guard spokesperson Kazuo Ogawa said.
Ogawa said the areas are the same as the ones North Korea identified for its failed satellite launches in May and August, implying the third attempt would have a similar flight path. North Korea has given Japan the launch information because Japan's coast guard coordinates and distributes maritime safety information in East Asia.
The North's notification came a day after rival South Korea warned it to cancel its launch or face consequences. South Korea's military suggested Seoul would suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance and live-firing drills in response to a North Korean satellite launch.
UN Security Council resolutions ban any satellite launches by North Korea because they are seen as a cover for testing its missile technology. North Korea says it needs a space-based surveillance system to better monitor its rivals, but South Korea says the North's launches are also designed to enhance its long-range missile program.
Since last year, North Korea has carried out about 100 missile tests as part of its efforts to modernize its arsenal of nuclear-capable weapons targeting the United States and its allies. Many foreign experts say the North still has the few remaining technological hurdles to overcome to possess functioning nuclear-tipped missiles.