North Korea has confirmed it will launch a reconnaissance satellite in June, state media quoted a senior defense official as saying on Tuesday, adding that it would be used to monitor military movements of the United States and its allies in real time. is required.
Japan said on Monday it had been informed by Pyongyang that a satellite launch could happen as early as this week, but Tokyo warned that the North is in fact planning a sanctions-defying ballistic missile test.
The North’s state Korean Central News Agency cited Ri Pyong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling party’s Central Military Commission, as saying the “military reconnaissance satellite No. 1” will be launched “in June”.
The statement said the satellites, “with various reconnaissance means due to the new test, are indispensable for tracking, monitoring … and dealing with dangerous military acts of the US and its vassal forces in advance in real time”.
Citing “reckless” acts by Washington and Seoul, Ri said North Korea felt the “need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons” in an effort to strengthen military preparedness. Did.
According to KCNA Dispatch, the official also accused the United States of conducting “hostile aerial espionage activities over the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding region”.
North Korea informed Japan that it would launch a rocket between May 31 and June 11 to identify warning areas in the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the waters east of Luzon Island in the Philippines, a Japanese coast guard said. the spokesman told AFP.
Such areas are usually designated for falling debris or rocket stages.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida asked officials to gather intelligence on “notification by North Korea about the launch of a ballistic missile which it describes as a satellite”, his office said in a tweet .
Kishida told reporters, “Even if it is described as a satellite, a launch using ballistic missile technology would be a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions” and would endanger people’s safety.
In 2012 and 2016, Pyongyang tested ballistic missiles it called satellite launches. Both flew over Japan’s southern Okinawa region.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this month inspected the country’s first military spy satellite as it prepared for launch, and gave the green light for its “future action plan”.
– ‘Cannot be justified’ –
In 2021, Kim identified the development of such satellites as a major defense project for the North Korean military.
Since long-range rockets and space launchers share the same technology, analysts say developing the capability to orbit a satellite would give Pyongyang cover for testing banned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Japan’s Defense Ministry issued an order to shoot down any ballistic missile confirmed to have landed in its territory.
South Korea’s foreign ministry condemned the launch plan, but officials would not confirm to AFP whether Seoul was informed directly.
The ministry said, “North Korea’s so-called ‘satellite launch’ is a serious violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, which ban all launches using ballistic missile technology, and is a categorically illegal act that should be punished.” Can’t be justified by any excuse.”
South Korea and Japan have been working to improve long-fraught ties, including through greater cooperation on military threats from North Korea.
– Abnormal stance –
Meanwhile, Kishida reiterated on Monday that Tokyo was ready for talks with Pyongyang.
North Korean state media on Monday published a statement by the country’s vice-minister of foreign affairs that appeared to endorse a friendly approach to relations with Japan – an unusual stance from Pyongyang.
Pak Sang-gil’s statement, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, said that if Japan “ceases to be bound by the past, and finds a way to improve relations, there is no chance for the DPRK and Japan to meet”. No reason”.
Pak said, however, that Japan needed to move beyond the “kidnapping issue” to improve relations.
Japan suspects that dozens of people who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s to train spies in Japanese language and culture are still missing.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP,