Failure of ‘Satellite’ Launch: China, Russia Have Allowed North Korea to Grow Arrogant

Even though its latest “satellite” launch ended in failure, one cannot help but feel outraged at North Korea’s dangerous behavior, which threatens Japan’s security.

Japan, the United States and South Korea should take all possible measures to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and heighten pressure on North Korea.

North Korea launched a new type of satellite-carrying rocket with a “military reconnaissance satellite” aboard, but it exploded mid-flight. This is believed to have been caused by a malfunction in a newly developed engine, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency reported.

The rocket apparently disappeared over the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula. The Japanese government issued an emergency warning to Okinawa Prefecture via the J-Alert nationwide early warning system at the time of the launch but lifted it soon after.

No damage was confirmed in Japan, but depending on the location of the explosion, it could have affected the nation.

North Korea failed to launch a reconnaissance satellite in May and August last year, but succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit in its third such attempt in November last year. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s government has announced plans to launch three more reconnaissance satellites within this year. The latest launch was the first of these satellites.

The Kim government will likely continue to conduct launches until it succeeds, improving its technology each time. The threat from North Korea only continues to grow.

North Korea’s obsession with putting reconnaissance satellites into space is based on its belief that satellite surveillance is essential to accurately attack both U.S. and South Korean forces with its ballistic missiles.

By maintaining this capability, North Korea may be trying to draw security assurances for the Kim regime from the United States.

Fundamentally, however, North Korea’s launch with ballistic missile technology is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Security Council, including China and Russia, unanimously adopted all 11 sanctions resolutions against North Korea from 2006 to 2017.

Since then, however, the Security Council has failed to adopt a single resolution, no matter what provocations North Korea has made. This is because China and Russia, which are increasingly at odds with the United States, have used their veto power as a shield to block additional resolutions.

As long as the Security Council is not functioning, it is advisable for Japan, the United States and South Korea to consider strengthening the sanctions that each country is imposing on its own, separately from the council’s resolutions.

Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine, is reportedly providing technical support for satellite development in return for receiving weapons from North Korea. Moscow is no longer worthy to be a permanent member of the Security Council, which is responsible for world peace and stability.

China, too, has turned to the defense of North Korea, claiming that the tensions on the Korean Peninsula were caused by pressure from the United States and South Korea. If China takes an irresponsible attitude, as if it has forgotten past resolutions that it supported, it will erode China’s credibility in the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 29, 2024)