North Korea has notified Japan of a plan to launch a space rocket between Wednesday and Dec. 1, Reuters reported Monday, as the recalcitrant regime is preparing for what would be its third attempt to put a military spy satellite into orbit.
The North apprised Japan's Coast Guard of the planned launch in the direction of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, according to Reuters.
South Korea has said Pyongyang may go ahead with the launch as early as "this week or so," while urging the regime to "immediately" stop the launch preparations.
The North initially planed to make the third launch attempt in October following two botched launches -- in August and May. But it did not press ahead with the plan last month, raising speculation that it might need more preparation time.
The North's launch preparations drew keen attention amid speculation that Russia might have provided military technology and support to the North in return for the North's supply of military equipment and munitions for use in the war in Ukraine.
Seoul and Washington have warned the North against the launch, which they say would be a violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning any launch using ballistic missile technology.
Lt. Gen. Kang Ho-pil, chief director of operations at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that Seoul would take "necessary measures" should the North go ahead with the launch.
Observers said that the North appears intent to secure intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets as it is far behind the allies in ISR capabilities despite its focus on developing an array of formidable weapons systems, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles and tactical nuclear arms. (Yonhap)
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