North Korea plans ‘satellite’ launch in next two weeks: Japan

North Korea has notified Japan of a plan to launch a ‘satellite’ that could be a ballistic missile between May 31 and June 11, a Japanese coastguard official has said.

North Korea has also undertaken a series of missile and weapons tests in recent months, including a new, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Japanese officials believe the launch will involve a ballistic missile, according to a tweet from the prime minister’s office that refers to a “ballistic missile that it [Pyongyang] describes as a satellite”.

Pyongyang has informed Japan’s coastguard that a rocket will be launched between May 31 and June 11 and could affect waters near the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and east of Luzon Island in the Philippines, a coastguard spokesman told the AFP news agency.

The Japanese prime minister’s office urged North Korea to refrain from the launch and said it would work closely with allies.

“We strongly urge North Korea to refrain from launching,” the prime minister’s office said on Twitter, adding it would cooperate “with relevant countries, such as the US and South Korea”.

The Japanese government would do all it could to collect and analyse information from the launch, it said.

North Korea announced it had completed work on its first spy satellite in April. Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a military satellite facility and gave the go-ahead for a “future action plan”. Such a launch would use long-range missile technology banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Analysts say the spy satellite is part of nuclear-armed North Korea’s efforts to advance surveillance technology, including drones, and improve its ability to strike targets in the event of a conflict.

North Korean media previously criticised plans by South Korea, the United States and Japan to share real-time data on Pyongyang’s missile launches, describing the three as discussing “sinister measures” for tightening military cooperation.


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