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Friday, April 12, 2024

Japan extends ‘destroy order’ for North Korean missiles

Pyongyang promised another attempt to launch a military satellite “as soon as possible”

The Japanese Defense Ministry has announced the indefinite extension of an order to track and destroy any rocket, ballistic missile or debris that could pose a threat to the territory of the country, after North Korea vowed to conduct another attempt to launch a military satellite.

“Regarding the order on the introduction of measures to destroy ballistic missiles, issued on May 29, 2023, we will temporarily extend it for the period after June 11, 2023,” the Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

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Tokyo issued the original shootdown order in late May, after Pyongyang warned the Japanese Coast Guard of its intention to launch a military satellite into orbit. The Japanese military went on to deploy US-made Patriot missile defense systems to its southwestern islands, while Japanese Aegis destroyers armed with SM-3 interceptors were sent to patrol the East China Sea.

On May 31, North Korea confirmed that a rocket carrying its Malligyong-1 military satellite had crashed into the Yellow Sea, after the second-stage engine failed to ignite due to a “malfunction.”

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Following the setback, Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said she was “certain that the DPRK’s military reconnaissance satellite will be correctly put in space orbit in the near future and start its mission.”

South Korea is also wary of a possible second launch, as “[even] though the notice period is over, North Korea can launch a long-range ballistic missile at any time without prior notice,” a senior presidential official told Yonhap. After the failed launch, the South Korean military reportedly located and salvaged some of the debris, and released images showing what appeared to be a large barrel-like liquid fuel tank.

A UN Security Council resolution bans Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology for any purposes, including satellite launches. During a meeting of the council earlier this month, the US urged other members to join it in condemning North Korea’s “unlawful behavior.” Washington also called on the UNSC to ensure that Pyongyang does not make further attempts to launch a satellite into orbit.

However, Russia and China have refused to reprimand Pyongyang, arguing that there are legitimate security concerns behind its actions.