North Korea indicates impending satellite launch over Japan

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North Korea on Tuesday signalled an imminent satellite launch, Japanese media reported, an apparent retry of a failed effort with a military satellite that plunged into the sea back in May.

Pyongyang informed the Japan Coast Guard that it intended to launch sometime between August 24-31, the Kyodo news agency said.

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In May, North Korea launched what it described as its first military reconnaissance satellite, but the rocket carrying it plunged into the sea minutes after takeoff.

North Korea said it had developed the spy satellite as a necessary counterbalance to the growing US military presence in the region.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s state news agency condemned “the aggressive character” of US-South Korea military drills that kicked off on Tuesday.

In a commentary KCNA warned that if the drills involve a “nuclear provocation,” the possibility “of a thermonuclear war on the Korean peninsula will become more realistic.”

The United States, South Korea, and Japan condemned North Korea’s satellite launch in May as a violation of United Nations resolutions prohibiting the nuclear-armed state from using ballistic missile technology.

Analysts have said there is significant technological overlap between the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and space launch capabilities.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of a military spy satellite a top priority.

South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers last week that Pyongyang could launch a reconnaissance satellite in late August or early September, the Yonhap news agency reported.

The launch is meant to happen ahead of the 75th anniversary of the regime’s founding on Sept. 9, according to Yonhap.

The crash of the satellite in May sparked a complex, 36-day South Korean salvage operation involving a fleet of naval rescue ships, mine sweepers and deep-sea divers.

The retrieved parts of the rocket and the satellite were analysed by experts in South Korea and the United States.

South Korea’s defence ministry subsequently said the satellite had no military utility.

Read more:

US drills could trigger ‘thermonuclear war’: North Korean media warns

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Japan says North Korea threat more serious than ‘ever before’

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