By HYUNG-JIN KIM and KIM TONG-HYUNG (Associated Press)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s attempt to put the country’s first spy satellite into space on Wednesday failed in a setback for leader Kim Jong Un’s attempt to boost his military capabilities as threats mount. tensions with the United States and South Korea.
After an unusually quick admission of failure, North Korea has committed to a second launch after learning what went wrong with its rocket liftoff. It suggests that Kim remains determined to expand his arsenal of weapons and put more pressure on Washington and Seoul while diplomacy stalls.
South Korea and Japan briefly urged residents to take shelter after the launch.
The South Korean military said it was recovering an object believed to be part of the crashed North Korean rocket in waters 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of the southwestern island of Eocheongdo. The Defense Ministry later released photos of a white metal cylinder that it described as a suspicious part of a rocket.
North Korea’s launch of a satellite is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit the country from conducting any launch based on ballistic technology. Observers say North Korea’s previous satellite launches helped improve its long-range missile technology, though the most recent launch likely focused more on deploying a spy satellite. North Korea has already shown it may have the ability to strike the entire continental United States after years of ICBM tests, though outside experts say the North has yet to acquire working nuclear missiles.
The newly developed Chollima-1 rocket, carrying the Malligyong-1 satellite, was launched at 6:37 am at the North Sohae Satellite Launch Field in the northwest. The rocket crashed off the western coast of the Korean peninsula after losing thrust following the separation of its first and second stages, the North Korean Central News Agency said.
He said the country’s space agency will investigate the flaws revealed in the launch, take urgent measures to overcome them, and carry out the second launch as soon as possible through various partial tests.
“It’s impressive when the North Korean regime actually admits failure, but it would be hard to hide the fact of a failed satellite launch internationally, and the regime is likely to offer a different narrative domestically,” Leif-Eric said. Easley, Ewha’s teacher. Seoul University said. “This result also suggests that Pyongyang could stage another provocation soon, partly to make up for today’s setback.”
Seoul’s military said it boosted military readiness in coordination with the United States, and Japan said it was prepared to respond to any emergency.
The South Korean military said the North Korean rocket had “abnormal flight” before hitting the water. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that no objects were believed to have reached space.
Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said in a statement that Washington strongly condemns North Korea’s launch because it used banned ballistic missile technology, increased tensions and risked destabilizing security in the US. region and beyond.
Hodge said the United States urged North Korea to return to the talks and cease its provocative actions. He said the United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and the defense of South Korea and Japan.
The UN imposed economic sanctions on North Korea for its previous launches of satellites and ballistic missiles. But it did not impose new sanctions for recent tests because China and Russia, permanent members of the council now locked in clashes with the United States, have blocked attempts to tighten sanctions.
Matsuno said North Korea’s repeated missile launches pose serious threats to the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community. Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan plans to keep missile defense systems deployed on Japan’s southern islands and southwestern waters until June 11, which is the end of Japan’s declared launch window. North Korea.
The southern capital Seoul issued alerts through public loudspeakers and cellphone text messages telling residents to prepare to evacuate after the launch was detected. Japan activated a missile warning system for Okinawa Prefecture in southwestern Japan, in the suspected path of the rocket. Alerts were subsequently lifted in Okinawa and Seoul.
“Evacuate to buildings or underground,” the Japanese alert read.
KCNA did not provide details of the rocket and satellite beyond their names. But experts previously said North Korea would likely use a liquid-fueled rocket as most of its previously tested long-range rockets and missiles have.
While planning a fuller investigation, the Northern National Aerospace Development Administration attributed the failure to “the low reliability and stability of the new-type engine system applied to (the) carrier rocket” and “the unstable nature of the fuel,” according to KCNA.
On Tuesday, Ri Pyong Chol, a senior North Korean official, said the North needed a space-based reconnaissance system to counter growing security threats from South Korea and the United States.
However, the spy satellite previously revealed in the country’s state media did not appear to be sophisticated enough to produce high-resolution images. Some outside experts said it can still detect troop movements and large targets, such as warships and fighter jets.
Recent commercial satellite images of North Korea’s Sohae launch center showed active construction indicating that North Korea plans to launch more than one satellite. In her statement on Tuesday, Ri also said North Korea would test “various means of reconnaissance” to monitor the movements of the United States and its allies in real time.
With three to five spy satellites, North Korea could build a space-based surveillance system that allows it to monitor the Korean peninsula in near real time, according to Lee Choon Geun, an honorary fellow at the Korea Institute for Science and Technology Policy. South.
The satellite is one of several high-tech weapons systems that Kim has vowed to unveil publicly. Other weapons on his wish list include a multi-warhead missile, a nuclear submarine, a solid-propellant ICBM and a hypersonic missile. In his visit to the space agency in mid-May, Kim stressed the strategic importance of a spy satellite in North Korea’s confrontation with the United States and South Korea.
Denuclearization talks with the US have been stalled since early 2019. Meanwhile, Kim has focused on expanding his nuclear and missile arsenals in what experts say is an attempt to wrest concessions from Washington and Seoul. . Since early 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 missile tests, many involving nuclear-capable weapons targeting the mainland United States, South Korea and Japan.
North Korea says its testing activities are self-defense measures aimed at responding to expanded military exercises between Washington and Seoul that it sees as invasion drills. US and South Korean officials say their exercises are defensive and have strengthened them to deal with North Korea’s growing nuclear threats.
Easley, the professor, said Kim has likely increased pressure on his scientists and engineers to launch the spy satellite as rival South Korea successfully launched its first commercial-grade satellite aboard its domestically-made Nuri rocket. earlier this month.
South Korea is expected to launch its first spy satellite later this year, and analysts say Kim is likely to want his country to launch its spy satellite before South Korea to bolster his military credentials at home.
After repeated failures, North Korea successfully launched its first satellite into orbit in 2012 and its second in 2016. The government said both are Earth observation satellites launched under its peaceful space development program, but many foreign experts believed that both were developed for spying. about rivals.
Observers say there has been no evidence that the satellites have transmitted images to North Korea.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.