North Korea readies third attempt at 'spy satellite' launch

What a coincidence! The South is just about to lauch one, too. And it probably won't be junk like the hermit kingdom's recent efforts

North Korea has notified Japan that its third attempt to launch a satellite will take place between November 22 and December 1.

According to a notice posted by Japan's coast guard, it expects the rocket's trajectory to pass over the Yellow Sea and East China Sea.

South Korea is also aware of the military spy satellite’s launch. Defense minister Shin Won-sik reportedly noted over the weekend that the launch is imminent. The minister also pointed out that the hermit kingdom's mission could be timed to launch before the South's first homegown reconnaissance satellite launches on November 30 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9.

According to South Korean public broadcaster KBS, the military warned of a stern response – including a partial suspension of the 2018 inter-Korean military deal.

"The launch would be a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolution that bans the North from launching missiles using ballistic missile technology and a provocation that threatens our national security," warned South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Kang Ho-pil.

Japanese president Fumio Kishida also reportedly called the proposed launch a violation of UN resolutions.

Kishida said Japan's defence systems – including its Aegis destroyers and PAC-3 defence missiles – are at the ready for any "unexpected situation."

North Korea's last attempt to launch what it dubiously described as a military reconnaissance satellite failed in August. State media KCNA attributed the failure to an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight. It promised to tweak the system and engine reliability and launch again in October, so it seems Kim's Kingdom is running a tad late.

A May 2023 launch also failed, ending up in the Yellow Sea. That failure was attributed to an "abnormal starting of the second-stage engine after the separation of the first stage."

South Korea dredged up the satellite and found it had very limited military value.

But this launch is being taken seriously, amid reports that North Korea may have solved its rocket engine problems with Russia's help.

Early this month, Reuters reported that South Korean government entity National Intelligence Service (NIS) found North Korea running a munitions factory for Russia – leading Moscow to offer the hermit kingdom technical assistance related to rocket launch mechanisms and engines. ®

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