Pyongyang notified Tokyo of its plans to launch a satellite into orbit, as part of North Korea’s space program, designating the launch window between May 31 and June 11, Japan’s Coast Guard stated on Monday.
Japan’s Defense Ministry has announced that any North Korean missile violating the country’s territory would be destroyed. The statement was made after Pyongyang informed the Japanese coast guard of a scheduled launch into orbit of its satellite in the coming days.
“We will take destructive measures against ballistic and other missiles that are confirmed to land in our territory,” Japan’s defense ministry stated.
The ministry added that it was preparing to use its Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) or Patriot Missile PAC-3 for the purpose.
Pyongyang had specified that the launch window was between May 31 and June 11, as per the Japan Coast Guard website.
The reason for the barrage of condemnation is that to carry out the launch, North Korea would have to resort to long-range missile technology.
However, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is banned from doing so under United Nations’ Security Council resolutions. Pyongyang has argued that these measures do not cover its civilian space program.
The US, Japan, and South Korea all insist that this space program is only nominally civilian, and allege that the launch of satellites is a means of advancing North Korea’s missile program.
“Any missile launch by North Korea, even if it is called a ‘satellite,’ is a serious violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and a serious problem for the safety of the Japanese people,” Fumio Kishida later told reporters.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, also echoed these concerns, telling a press conference:
“The government recognizes that there is a possibility that the satellite may pass through our country’s territory.” Matsuno added that any launch by North Korea, even if “termed a satellite launch”, impacted the safety of Japanese citizens.
A similar order to shoot down any missile that violates its territory had been given by Japan in February 2016. At that time, North Korea was believed to have attempted, but failed, to put a satellite into orbit.
Earlier in May, Kim Jong-un had inspected preparations for the launch of North Korea’s first military reconnaissance satellite designed to deter the United States and South Korea, North Korea’s state-run news agency reported.
Kim had given instructions to “make sure that the military reconnaissance satellite No. 1 completed as of April will be launched at the planned date,” the official state news agency of the DPRK reported.
During a visit to North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration, he also called on staff to “firmly establish the satellite intelligence-gathering capability by deploying several reconnaissance satellites on different orbits in succession”.
DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, KPA brass, and Kim’s daughter watch a rocket artillery drill in Nampo on March 9, 2023. – Sputnik International, 1920, 17.05.2023
In mid-April, when North Korea’s state-run news agency reported that the new-type Hwansong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile was tested under the supervision of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Japan’s Defense Ministry announced it had ordered the Self-Defense Forces to be ready to shoot down any object that could threaten Japanese territory.
The North Korean missile, launched toward the Sea of Japan, had flown about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Also in April, the White House announced the “Washington Declaration,” an agreement between Seoul and Washington on “nuclear deterrence.”
South Korea and the United States have since embarked upon their largest military exercise ever, in five phases, from May 25 to June 15, involving air, sea and land forces.
The United States has insisted its military drills are not meant to provoke North Korea, but rather to demonstrate its commitment to protecting its ally from potential North Korean attacks.
However, war games with use of F-35A fighter jets, AH-64-Apache Helicopters, various tanks and multiple rocket launchers have been slammed by the DPRK as pushing the region close to armed conflict.
An article published in state-owned North Korean media noted that the peninsula is “on the brink of explosion,” and that the joint military exercises have become “more undisguised and dangerous [in] nature.”
North Korea has responded to the military posturing with missile tests and demonstrations that their weapons can reach not only Seoul but also Japan and other regions.
By Svetlana Ekimenko
Published by Sputnik Globe
Republished by The 21st Century
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 21cir.com