North Korea intends to launch a "military reconnaissance satellite" in June, the country's state media reported Tuesday, calling the move "indispensable" to beef up preparedness against what it said was the threat posed by the United States and its allies.
The plan was announced in a statement dated Monday by Ri Pyong Chol, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The Japanese government said Monday that North Korea notified it of a plan to launch a satellite between Wednesday and June 11.
"The DPRK's military reconnaissance satellite No. 1 to be launched in June and various reconnaissance means due to be newly tested are indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts of the U.S. and its vassal forces," the statement said.
DPRK is the acronym of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's formal name.
Japan's top government spokesman, Hirokazu Matsuno, told a press conference that Tokyo will "take all necessary measures, including intercepting" any missile that is feared to fall within Japanese territory.
Japan, together with other countries, considers the North's launching of a rocket carrying a purported satellite as equivalent to a ballistic missile test and thus a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that impose sanctions on Pyongyang for weapons-related activities.
Tokyo is also stepping up its surveillance activities, closely cooperating with its key security ally Washington and Seoul, Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno said.
Touching on one of the largest-ever joint firing drills that the United States and South Korea are conducting near the border with North Korea, Ri said "the reckless military acts" by the two countries are making North Korea feel "the need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons."