North Korea has proceeded with its satellite launch, ignoring growing international criticism, in a move likely to elicit strong responses from the United States and its allies who view such provocative acts as threats to regional security.
The launch Tuesday follows the South Korean military’s warning on Monday that it detected new activities from the North which appeared to be signs for a satellite launch.
“North Korea launched what it claims to be a military reconnaissance satellite in a southern direction,” South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said in a statement late Tuesday.
The JSC has yet to provide details, including whether the test was successful, the location of the launch, or any flight data related to the launch.
Rocket technology can be used for both launching satellites and missiles. For that reason, the U.N. bans North Korea from launching a ballistic rocket, even if it claims to be a satellite launch.
In August, North Korea failed for the second time to launch a satellite, three months after an unsuccessful first attempt.
On Monday, the JCS’s chief director of operations, Kang Ho-pil, strongly urged North Korea to cease the launch, vowing that Seoul would take the necessary counter measures.
South Korea is most likely to suspend the effectiveness of the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement, a military source, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Radio Free Asia late Tuesday. The person did not elaborate.
The two Koreas have agreed to halt what each other defined as hostile actions towards one another near the border, but the North has conducted a number of provocations, violating the agreement. Critics in South Korea, thus, have long argued that the deal has already become ineffective, only serving to restrict Seoul’s operational and surveillance capabilities.
South Korea’s defense minister Shin Won-sik told reporters last month that the agreement has limited the South’s surveillance capability against North Korean provocations.
North Korea has been solidifying its ties with Russia, and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said earlier this month that it is likely to have received help in obtaining satellite launch technology from Moscow.
The launch comes as South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol is in London for his state visit to the United Kingdom, where he pledged to advance Seoul’s security ties with London. North Korea has a history of proceeding provocations when South Korean presidents are abroad, seemingly to challenge Seoul’s response capabilities and the efficiency of its systems in the president’s absence.
Edited by Elaine Chan and Mike Firn