North Korea’s military satellite launch: five things to know

North Korea’s plan to launch a military reconnaissance satellite by 11 June has raised concerns from Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington over potential violations of UN sanctions.

Although North Korea claims the satellite launch is separate from ballistic missile technology, experts argue that the two use similar rocket systems. Previous satellite launches by North Korea have been considered disguised tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The upcoming launch is seen as an attempt to assert North Korea’s military capabilities and gather intelligence on South Korea’s defense posture.

North Korea confirms June launch of military spy satellite: KCNA

North Korea plans to launch a reconnaissance satellite in June to monitor military movements of the United States, according to state media.

Japan has been informed about the potential launch but warns it could be a sanctions-defying ballistic missile test.

North Korea justifies the launch by citing the need to track and cope with the “dangerous military acts” of the US and its allies.

Japan and South Korea condemn the plan, while Japan expresses openness to talks with Pyongyang, which is an unusual stance for North Korea.

Kim Jong Un’s sister says US-S. Korea plan risks ‘serious danger’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, warns that the US-South Korean agreement aimed at strengthening deterrence against Pyongyang will lead to “more serious danger”.

She added that the North remains convinced that its nuclear deterrent “should be brought to further perfection” and criticised the deployment of nuclear assets near the Korean peninsula.

This indicates that military tensions around the Korean peninsula could escalate to a level similar to 2017.

China warns US and South Korea against ‘provoking confrontation’ with North Korea

China has warned the US and South Korea against provoking confrontation with North Korea, after President Biden and his South Korean counterpart warned that Pyongyang would face the end of its leadership if it uses its nuclear arsenal.

China’s foreign ministry urged all parties to play a constructive role in promoting a peaceful settlement of the issue, and not to deliberately stir up tensions or provoke confrontation.

The ministry also condemned Washington’s decision to strengthen the US security shield for South Korea and warned that it could undermine regional peace and stability.

Biden, Yoon warn North Korea of nuclear response to any attack

US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol have issued a warning to North Korea that it will face a nuclear response and the “end” of its leadership if it uses its own nuclear arsenal.

The two leaders spoke at the White House and emphasized that the US security shield for South Korea was being strengthened in response to North Korea’s aggressive missile tests.

The Washington Declaration was issued, which strengthens the US nuclear umbrella over South Korea, with the two countries sharing information and consulting in the event of a North Korean attack.

North Korea fires ‘medium range or longer’ ballistic missile

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on April 13, prompting Japan to issue a brief seek shelter warning to residents of the northern Hokkaido region. The missile was fired on a lofted trajectory, flew 1,000 km before landing in the East Sea, and was detected by South Korea’s military.

The launch is the latest in a string of banned weapons tests conducted by Pyongyang, which has already fired several of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles this year.

North Korea’s Kim calls for ramping up production of ‘weapon-grade nuclear material’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for an expansion of “weapon-grade nuclear materials” production and the building of more powerful weapons. His comments came as a US Navy carrier strike group arrived in South Korea.

Photos released by state media showed Kim inspecting a row of nuclear warheads identified as the “Hwasan-31”. Analysts believe that the country is building up to a seventh nuclear test.

North Korea says it tested new underwater nuclear attack ‘drone’

North Korea claims it has tested an underwater nuclear attack drone capable of creating a “radioactive tsunami” to destroy enemy naval groups and operational ports. Analysts, however, have cast doubt on the regime’s claims, with some suggesting it could be an attempt at deception or a psychological operation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the tests, which come after the US and South Korea carried out their largest joint military drills in five years.

Pyongyang views such exercises as rehearsals for invasion and has threatened “overwhelming” action in response.

South Korean President Yoon hails key ‘step forward’ in Japan ties

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is optimistic about closer cooperation with Japan on issues including North Korea and semiconductors. Yoon’s new plan to compensate Korean victims of Japanese forced labour without Tokyo’s direct involvement has been met with controversy.

Despite this, Yoon is eager to settle the historic dispute and seek closer ties with Japan in the face of growing threats from North Korea. Both countries are ramping up defense spending and joint military exercises to ensure regional and global stability.

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles, Seoul says

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles towards the East Sea, marking its second launch in three days and the first since the US-South Korea military drills began. Seoul and Washington have been increasing their defence cooperation in response to North Korea’s growing military and nuclear threats, including a series of banned weapons tests.

The joint military exercises, known as Freedom Shield, started on Monday and will run for 10 days. North Korea views such drills as rehearsals for invasion and has warned it would take “overwhelming” action in response.