Pyongyang’s new launch plan follows Seoul and Washington kicking off their major annual joint military drills on Monday.
Known as Ulchi Freedom Shield, the exercises, which are aimed at countering growing threats from the nuclear-armed North, will run through Aug 31.
Pyongyang views all such drills as rehearsals for an invasion and has repeatedly warned it would take “overwhelming” action in response.
Suspected North Korean hackers have already targeted the exercises, with email attacks on South Korean contractors working at the allies’ combined exercise war simulation centre.
On Tuesday, North Korea’s state news agency condemned “the aggressive character” of the US-South Korea drills.
In a commentary, KCNA warned that if the drills involve a “nuclear provocation”, the possibility “of a thermonuclear war on the Korean peninsula will become more realistic”.
South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers last week that Pyongyang could launch a reconnaissance satellite ahead of the 75th anniversary of the North’s founding on Sep 9, member of parliament Yoo Sang-bum told reporters after the briefing.
Choi Gi-il, professor of national security at Sangji University, told AFP: “Pyongyang appears to be timing its next satellite launch with the ongoing joint Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise, having improved and supplemented technical aspects of the launch over the past three months.”
“Given the nature of the North Korean regime, three months seems sufficient enough to find flaws from its failed May launch and apply fixes – though we have to see whether it can pull it off this time,” he said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of a military spy satellite a top priority.
The crash of the satellite in May sparked a complex, 36-day South Korean salvage operation involving a fleet of naval rescue ships, mine sweepers and deep-sea divers.
The retrieved parts of the rocket and the satellite were analysed by experts in South Korea and the United States, with Seoul’s defence ministry subsequently saying the satellite had no military utility.