By Hyeonhee Shin and Sang-Ron Kim
SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea launched a space satellite southward on Wednesday, prompting emergency warnings and brief evacuation warnings in parts of South Korea and Japan, South Korea’s military said.
North Korea has said it will launch its first military spy satellite between May 31 and June 11 to increase monitoring of US activities.
In data provided to international authorities, North Korea said the launch would carry the rocket south, with various stages and other debris expected to fall into the Yellow Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Air raid sirens wailed across the South Korean capital of Seoul at 6:32 a.m. (2132 GMT Tuesday). Alerts later reported that the city warning had been sent in error.
The Japanese government issued an emergency warning to residents of the southern prefecture of Okinawa early Wednesday through its J-Alert broadcast system. The government has warned residents to stay indoors if they are outside.
It later said the missile would not fly into Japan’s territory and lifted the warning.
On Tuesday, Ri Pyong Chol, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said Pyongyang “needs the ability to gather information on military operations” for ongoing joint military exercises between the US and South Korea. enemy in real time.”
Before Wednesday’s launch, the US State Department said any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology would violate several United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“Space Launch Vehicles (SLVs) incorporate technologies similar to and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles,” a State Department spokesperson said.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joo-Min Park and Josh Smith in Seoul and Sang-Ron Kim in Tokyo; Additional reporting by David Brunstrom in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese and Sonali Paul)