North Korea has claimed to have successfully placed a spy satellite into orbit with its third launch attempt this year, demonstrating the nation’s determination to build a space-based surveillance system during protracted tensions with the United States.

The North’s space authorities said in a statement that its space launch vehicle placed the Malligyong-1 satellite into orbit on Tuesday night following liftoff from the country’s main launch center and an intended flight.

The statement said that leader Kim Jong Un observed the launch and that the fired spy satellite would enhance North Korea’s war readiness in response to its rivals’ hostile military moves and that more would be launched at an early date.

South Korea and Japan said earlier that they detected the North Korean launch. The Japanese government briefly issued a J-Alert missile warning for Okinawa, urging residents to take shelter inside buildings or underground. South Korea’s military said it maintains its readiness in close coordination with the U.S. and Japan.

A spy satellite is among the key military assets coveted by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who wants to modernize his weapons systems to cope with what he calls escalating U.S. threats.

North Korea had vowed a third launch would take place sometime in October, but it didn’t follow through or give a reason for not following that launch plan. South Korean officials have said the delay occurred likely because North Korea was receiving Russian technological assistance for its spy satellite launch program.

North Korea has launched a military reconnaissance satellite to monitor South Korean and US activities and enhance its nuclear missile capabilities.

South Korea claims that the launch signifies a higher level of North Korea’s ICBM capabilities and requires reinforced countermeasures. The launch raises questions about whether the satellite performs reconnaissance functions and whether Russia provided technical or material assistance.

North Korea has conducted around 100 missile tests since last year to establish a reliable arsenal of nuclear weapons targeting the US and its allies. Many foreign experts believe North Korea has some remaining technologies to master to acquire functioning nuclear missiles.

Possessing a rocket capable of placing a satellite into orbit would mean North Korea can build a missile capable of carrying a warhead with a similar size of the satellite.

South Korea’s military suggested suspending a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance and firing exercises if the North goes ahead with its launch.

Japan’s coast guard said that North Korea had told Tokyo that it would launch a satellite between Wednesday and November 30. The U.S., South Korea, and Japan urged North Korea to cancel the launch, but permanent council members Russia and China have stymied any Security Council response.

In two previous launches in May and August, North Korea used its new Chollima-1 rocket to carry the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite.

In the first attempt, the rocket crashed into the ocean, and South Korea retrieved debris from the first launch and called the satellite too crude to perform military reconnaissance.

Some civilian experts suggest that North Korea’s Malligyong-1 satellite is likely capable only of detecting big targets like warships or planes.

Kim Jong-un is planning to introduce advanced weapons, including mobile ICBMs, nuclear submarines, and multi-warhead missiles, to wrest greater U.S. concessions, including sanctions relief, when diplomacy resumes.

The U.S. and South Korea have been expanding their military exercises, sometimes involving U.S. strategic assets like long-range bombers, a nuclear-armed submarine, and aircraft carriers. The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group recently arrived at a South Korean port, demonstrating strength against North Korea.

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