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North Korea may have launched a spy satellite missile on the day of the Japan-China-South Korea trilateral summit to put pressure on three countries


Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
A trilateral summit of Japan, China and South Korea will be held at the Blue House guesthouse in Seoul on Monday morning.

SEOUL โ€“ North Korea may have fired a missile carrying a spy satellite on the day of a trilateral summit of Japan, China and South Korea to put pressure on the three countries’ discussion of the nation. North Korea had notified the launch to coincide with the date of the trilateral summit.

It is likely that North Korea’s launch Monday evening was intended to send a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit to monitor bases of US and South Korean forces.

The country successfully launched the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite into orbit in November last year.

However, according to the South Korean Ministry of Defense and other sources, it is likely that North Korea has not conducted any reconnaissance, such as taking photos and transmitting data, partly due to technical problems.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced in December last year that the country would launch three additional spy satellites in 2024.

North Korea informed other countries of the planned launch on the day of the trilateral summit.

Speaking about the announcement, Cha Du Hyeogn, principal investigator of the Asian Institute for Policy Studies of South Korea, said: โ€œ[North Korea] predicted that South Korea and Japan would demand that China exert its influence on North Korea, and therefore tried to make it clear that such a thing will not affect them [North Korea].โ€

As for North Korea’s reconnaissance satellites, more and more experts believe that Russia, which has continued its aggression against Ukraine, has provided technological assistance in exchange for arms supplies from North Korea.

On Sunday, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted a senior South Korean government official as saying Moscow sent engineers to Pyongyang for the latest missile launch.

Yonhap also said that Russian engineers determined that the rocket engine’s performance was not sufficient for the launch. Repeated combustion tests of the engines caused the launch to take place later than expected by Seoul and others.

The South Korean military had predicted that North Korea might carry out the launch in late April.

The satellite launch in November last year took place just before the notified period. Both the US and South Korean forces had prepared for the possibility that North Korea would carry out the launch very early in the announced period.

Based on the announcement from North Korea, the South Korean air force conducted “formation flights and attack exercises” on Monday afternoon with about 20 aircraft, including F-35A stealth fighters.

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