Kim Jong-un is talking about him again. This Tuesday the South Korean army warned of suspicious activity by North Korea.
“North Korea has launched what it claims is a military surveillance satellite in the direction of the South,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
This is Pyonyang’s third attempt, after two failures to put a military satellite into orbit last May and August.
Convictions from Japan and South Korea
A few minutes after the firing, Japan reacted. “ We have already strongly protested against North Korea, and we have condemned (this launch) in the strongest possible terms. “, said Fumio Kishida from his office in Tokyo. Tokyo even urged Okinawan residents to take shelter after the shooting to prevent a crash or explosion near the coast. “ This is an important situation that affects the security of the Japanese people. We will continue to gather information and remain vigilant “, he continued.
And for good reason, North Korea had designated in August three maritime zones likely to be affected by the launch planned at the time: two in the Yellow Sea, to the west of the Korean peninsula, and a third in the waters located off eastern Philippines. “ The danger zones mentioned by North Korea this time match those announced during their planned satellite launch in August “, commented a South Korean official, quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
“ At the moment we are waiting to find out if there has been any damage. And even if they call it a satellite, launching something that uses ballistic missile technology is clearly a violation of United Nations resolutions “, highlighted the Prime Minister.
On Monday, before the missile was fired, the Japanese Prime Minister said that any use of ballistic missile technology would constitute a violation of United Nations resolutions, adding that Japan was coordinating its response with South Korea and the United States. United, its partners within the framework of a trilateral defense agreement.
For its part, the South Korean army warned North Korea to stop “ immediately » its preparations for such an operation, warning Pyongyang that it would take “ the necessary measures » if applicable.
Risk of conflict flaring up
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol could thus “ suspend the September 19 military agreement “, Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP. This agreement, reached in 2018 during a summit in Pyongyang, aimed to reduce military tensions along the highly secure inter-Korean border by creating ” buffer zones » maritime.
But the South Korean response could go even further. Tests of medium- or long-range solid-fuel ballistic missiles by Seoul “ are not to be excluded » neither, added Yang Moo-jin.
Fear of rapprochement with Russia
North Korea’s recent rapprochement with Russia also worries the United States and its South Korean and Japanese allies. According to Seoul, Pyongyang is supplying weapons to Moscow in exchange for Russian space technology aimed at putting a military spy satellite into orbit. At the beginning of November, American Secretary of State Antony Blinken also denounced military ties “ growing and dangerous » between Pyongyang and Moscow, following a visit to South Korea.
Building on this new friendship, North Korea is flexing its muscles and has carried out a record number of missile tests this year, despite international sanctions and warnings from the United States, South Korea and their allies. She also said “ irreversible » its status as a nuclear power. Last week, Pyongyang announced that it had successfully conducted ground tests of a “ new type » solid-fuel engine for its banned intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), calling them a crucial step in “ the serious and unstable security context “.
South Korea, the United States and Japan unite against Pyongyang
In response to growing threats from Pyongyang, Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have strengthened their defense cooperation in the face of this situation. In October, a U.S. B-52 bomber capable of carrying atomic bombs flew a rare mission to South Korea, less than a week after the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan visited a South Korean port.
This Tuesday, an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, arrived at the Busan naval base, South Korea. This arrival should strengthen the “ Allies’ position in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats “, as part of a recent agreement aimed at improving the ” regular visibility of American strategic assets », Underlined the South Korean navy.