North Korea Warns Japan: Spy Satellite Is Going Up

Pyongyang says it's 'indispensable' to monitor 'reckless' US-South Korea military exercises
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 30, 2023 1:02 PM CDT
North Korea Warns Japan: Spy Satellite Is Going Up
South Korean army's K-2 tanks fire during joint US military drills in Pocheon, South Korea, Thursday, May 25, 2023. North Korea on Tuesday, May 30, confirmed plans to launch its first military spy satellite in June and described it as crucial for monitoring "reckless" US military exercises.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

North Korea said Tuesday it would launch its first military spy satellite in June and described space-based reconnaissance as crucial for monitoring the United States' "reckless" military exercises with rival South Korea. The statement came a day after North Korea notified Japan's coast guard that it plans to launch a satellite sometime between May 31 and June 11, and that the event may affect waters in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and east of the Philippines’ Luzon Island. The AP reports that Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said he ordered Japan’s Self Defense Forces to shoot down the satellite or debris if any entered Japanese territory.

Senior North Korean military official Ri Pyong Chol berated the combined US-South Korean military exercises, which Pyongyang has long described as invasion rehearsals. He said North Korea considers space-based reconnaissance as "indispensable" to monitor in real time the "dangerous military acts of the US and its vassal forces," which he says are "openly revealing their reckless ambition for aggression." Last week, South Korean and US militaries conducted large-scale live-fire drills near the border with North Korea as the first of five rounds of exercises marking 70 years since the start of their alliance.

Ri said that the expanding US-South Korean military exercises, combined with US plans to send nuclear-capable submarines to dock in South Korea and increased activities of US reconnaissance aircraft, underline a "sinister intention" to prepare for pre-emptive military action against the North. While Washington and Seoul describe their regular military exercises as defensive, they have expanded their training since 2022 to cope with the North’s evolving threats.

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While previous missile and rockets tests have demonstrated North Korea’s ability to deliver a satellite into space, there are questions about the capabilities of its satellites. Foreign experts say the earlier satellites never transmitted imagery back to North Korea, and analysts say the new device displayed in state media in recent weeks appeared too small and crudely designed to process and transfer high-resolution imagery. (More North Korea stories.)

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