State-run media reported a Chollima-1 rocket launched from North Korea’s west coast and it “accurately” placed the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite into orbit, per South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un himself reportedly observed the launch, which followed two failed attempts earlier this year. Pyongyang cast the latest operation as being part of its “legitimate” right to strengthen “self defense” and vowed more satellites would follow in “a short period of time.”
The White House issued a statement saying the United States “strongly condemns” North Korea’s use of ballistic missile technology in “brazen violation” of multiple United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions.
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson added that the launch “raises tensions” and “risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond.”
South Korea’s military said it detected the launch from the Tongchang-ri area in the evening local time and that the rocket flew over waters west of the border island of Baengyeong, which according to Yonhap, came hours before a 10-day launch window North Korea gave to Japan as a safety warning.
South Korean officials believe North Korea was able to make progress with the help of Russia after the technical issues mired the prior two launches this year, as reported by The New York Times.
North Korea has fired what it claims is a military spy satellite, the South's armed forces said on Tuesday, hours after Japan confirmed that Pyongyang had warned it of an imminent launch ➡️ https://t.co/D5pSChSekv pic.twitter.com/5ztZVX3NYA
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 21, 2023
Japan as well as South Korea had pressed North Korea to halt the launch. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned North Korea against the use of ballistic missile technology in violation of U.N. resolutions and said it would pose a “serious threat that affects the safety of our people.”
Indeed, following the launch on Tuesday, the Japanese government issued a J-Alert missile warning urging residents in Okinawa to take shelter for a short time, noted the Associated Press.
Bloomberg News reported that officials in South Korea’s capital of Seoul believe North Korea’s satellite would be relatively primitive, but the report said it could help foster “target lists” as North Korean continues development of missiles meant to carry nuclear warheads. Meanwhile, South Korea is planning to launch its first home-built satellite to assist with surveillance efforts at the end of November using one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, with more to follow.
President Joe Biden and his national security team are “assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners,” Watson said in her statement on Tuesday.
The U.S. urges “all countries to condemn this launch and call on [North Korea] to come to the table for serious negotiations,” she continued. The door has not closed on diplomacy but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement. The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and the defense of our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.”