China urged all parties on Wednesday to remain “calm and restrained” after North Korea said it had successfully placed a military spy satellite in orbit, prompting condemnation from the United States and South Korea.
“All relevant parties should remain calm and restrained, look directly at the heart of the problem, adhere to the general direction of the political settlement, and do more to help defuse tensions,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning when asked about the launch.
South Korea said it would partially suspend a 2018 inter-Korean tensions reduction agreement after North Korea said it launched a military spy satellite in violation of a UN ban, Seoul officials said.
South Korea’s announcement – which is likely to anger North Korea – came hours after North Korea claimed it had successfully put a military surveillance satellite into orbit in its third launch attempt this year.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the Pyongyang General Control Center of the Korean National Aerospace Technology Directorate, a day after the launch of a rocket carrying the ‘Malligyong-1’ reconnaissance satellite in Pyongyang. (Photo: via AFP)
North Korea’s claims have not been independently verified. The Pentagon said it was still evaluating the success of the launch, while Japan said there was no confirmation that the North Korean satellite had entered orbit. However, the United States and its allies have condemned North Korea’s launch activities, which they believe are intended to improve the country’s missile technology and build a space-based surveillance system.
North Korea says it has the legal right to launch spy satellites to counter what it calls increasing American-led threats. But a UN Security Council resolution still prohibits any satellite launch by North Korea, considering it a cover to test its long-range missile technology.
Heo Tae-keun, South Korea’s Deputy Minister of National Defense Policy, said at a televised news conference that North Korea’s latest satellite launch was not only a clear violation of UN resolutions, but also “a major provocation that threatens our national security.”
Heo said South Korea would respond by partially suspending a 2018 inter-Korean tension reduction agreement on Wednesday evening to resume aerial surveillance activities on the border. He said the decision was approved at a meeting of South Korea’s Cabinet Council on Wednesday morning.
He added that based on its strong military alliance with the US, South Korea would “immediately and severely punish” North Korea if it used South Korea’s latest move as an excuse to launch another provocation. (ab/uh)