The North Korean military launched a projectile believed to be a spy satellite, according to South Korean military leaders.
The launch took place Tuesday despite North Korea previously claiming to neighboring Japan that the satellite would launch between Wednesday and Dec. 1.
“North Korea has fired what it claims is a military surveillance satellite in a southwards direction,” said the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This was echoed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who wrote on social media platform X, “North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile.”
The outcome of the launch and the success of the operation are currently unknown.
Japan’s Coast Guard reports that the projectile traveled in the direction of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea.
This was the third attempt by North Korean leaders to launch a military spy satellite into orbit.
North Korea previously attempted satellite launches in May and August – both ended in failure due to technical issues.
Senior diplomats from the U.S., Japan and South Korea have condemned the North Korean satellite program, warning that such provocations would only result in further defensive cooperation between Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.
South Korean intelligence indicates that Russia has been assisting North Korea in its satellite programs.
The South Korean Unification Ministry addressed the suspected collaboration earlier this month, speculating that North Korea was likely to move forward with the launch in the coming months.
“It is hard to predict when North Korea will make the third attempt for the launch. But there seem to be signs of the North receiving technical assistance from Russia,” South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho said, according to Yonhap News Agency.