North Korea says will launch next satellite into space; Japan, China, South Korea calls for denuclearisation

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North Korea has notified Japan of its plans to launch a satellite-carrying rocket before June 4, the Japanese government announced Monday, according to a report by Kyodo news agency citing the country’s coastguard. The development that came ahead of today’s trilateral meeting in Seoul, involving leaders of South Korea, China and Japan- the first such summit in over four years.

During a joint press conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and China’s Premier Li Qiang following the meeting in Seoul, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumion Kishida emphasised the importance of North Korean denuclearization and said that the stability of the Korean Peninsula is in the “common interest” of the three Asian countries. North Korea notified Japan about the satellite launch stating that the three “danger zones” where rocket debris may fall — two west of the Korean Peninsula and the other to the east of the Philippines’ island of Luzon, the Japan Coast Guard said.

At the outset of the trilateral summit, Kishida urged North Korea to cancel its planned satellite launch, with Yoon, the chair of the meeting, saying it would endanger regional and global peace and stability, Kyodo reported. At the press announcement, Chinese Premier Li, who took office in March 2023, called for a “political settlement” of issues relating to North Korea through dialogue.

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Kyodo reported that officials from Japan, the United States and South Korea confirmed during phone talks that they will urge North Korea to cancel the plan as any launch of a projectile using ballistic missile technology constitutes a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban any launch using ballistic missile technology, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. North Korea’s launch of a military reconnaissance satellite utilizing (intercontinental ballistic missile) technology is imminent,” a senior presidential official said on Sunday as reported by Yonhap.

“Given the possibility that various other missile provocations could accompany this, the government will maintain firm military readiness during and after the Korea-Japan-China summit,” the official said. In November last year, North Korea said it placed its first military spy satellite into orbit and vowed to launch three more spy satellites this year. Meanwhile, South Korea successfully launched its second indigenous spy satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, US. Yonhap News Agency reported on April 8 citing their defence ministry.

It is the second military satellite launched under South Korea’s plan to acquire five spy satellites by 2025 to monitor North Korea in a better way, Yonhap reported. Earlier on May 17, South Korea’s military said that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast. Yonhap reported that said the launch came after the North fired 600-mm super-large shells, considered to be short-range ballistic missiles, toward the East Sea on April 22.

In April this year, North Korea reportedly conducted a tactical drill simulating a nuclear counterattack, featuring super-large multiple rocket launchers. Leader Kim Jong-un guided the drill to operate super-large multiple rocket units that will have an “important role in substantially strengthening the prompt counterattack capacity of the state nuclear force,” Yonhap had quoted the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying.