North Korea nuclear program
North Korea nuclear programiStock

North Korea has confirmed it will launch a reconnaissance satellite in June, AFP reported on Monday, citing North Korean state media.

The North’s official KCNA news agency cited Ri Pyong Chol, vice-chairman of the ruling party's central military commission, as saying the "military reconnaissance satellite No. 1" would be "launched in June".

That satellite, along with "various reconnaissance means due to be newly tested, are indispensable to tracking, monitoring... and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts of the US and its vassal forces", the statement added.

Citing "reckless" acts by Washington and Seoul, Ri said North Korea felt "the need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons" in an effort to bolster military preparedness.

The announcement from North Korea came a day after Japan said it had been informed by North Korea of a plan to launch a satellite in the coming weeks.

Pyongyang has informed Japan's coastguard that a rocket will be launched between May 31 and June 11 and will fall in waters near the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and east of Luzon Island in the Philippines, a coastguard spokesman told AFP.

The prime minister's office said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida issued instructions "on North Korea's notification about the launch of a ballistic missile that it describes as a satellite".

North Korea has intensified its missile launches in recent months, with some triggering emergency warning systems in parts of Japan.

The country tested dozens of ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017.

In April, it tested a new nuclear underwater attack drone and also fired cruise missiles during a weapon test and firing drill.

A week later, North Korea successfully test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile powered by solid propellants.

US President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk Yeol recently warned North Korea that it would face a nuclear response and the "end" of the leadership there if Pyongyang uses its own arsenal.

They made clear that if North Korea attacks the South or the United States, the response will be devastating.