Rocket warning in Japan (screenshot from TV screen)
Photo: ISSEI KATO / REUTERS
North Korea says it has fired a "launcher," the South Korean General Staff said on Wednesday. Pyongyang fired something "it calls a space launch vehicle" in a southerly direction, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The South Korean capital Seoul and the southern Japanese region of Okinawa then sounded the alarm.
The city of Seoul, where sirens were wailing, sent a warning to all mobile phones, calling on the population to prepare for a possible evacuation and to "bring children and the elderly to safety first". A short time later, the Ministry of the Interior announced that the warning disseminated by the city administration had been "incorrectly published".
Japan activated its missile alert system for the southern region of Okonawa after the warning from South Korea. »Rocket launch. Rocket launch. North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please seek shelter in buildings or underground," said the warning, which was distributed by the broadcaster NHK and published on Twitter by the head of government's office.
A clear warning to the North
South Korea had warned the neighboring country the day before of a satellite launch. Should the launch actually take place, North Korea will pay a price for it and face painful consequences, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The authority accused the largely isolated neighbor of planning an illegal rocket launch. The country must withdraw the plan immediately.
South Korea responded to information from the Japanese Coast Guard that it had been informed by North Korea of an imminent satellite launch. The launch is planned between May 31 and June 11 – and is to be understood as a response to the "reckless military activities" of the United States, Pyongyang said.
Last month, North Korea's state media reported that the development of its first own Earth observation satellite for military purposes had now been completed and that it could be launched at the scheduled time.