North Korea’s spy satellite launch fails when rocket falls into sea

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.

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 during 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. North Korea’s long-range missile tests in recent years have demonstrated a potential range that could reach the entire continental US, but outside experts say North Korea still has work to do to obtain nuclear missiles. that work.

The newly developed Chollima-1 rocket was launched at 6:37 am at the North Sohae Satellite Launch Field in the northwest, carrying the Malligyong-1 satellite. 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.

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.

North Korean media said the country’s space agency will investigate what it calls “serious flaws revealed” by the launch and conduct a second launch as soon as possible.

“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.”

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.

The UN has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea over its previous launches of satellites and ballistic missiles but has not responded to recent tests because China and Russia, permanent members of the council now locked in clashes with the United States, have blocked attempts to toughen up. the sanctions.

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 United States said it will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and the defense of South Korea and Japan.

The South Korean capital Seoul issued alerts via public speaker and cellphone text messages telling residents to prepare for evacuation after the launch was detected, and Japan activated a missile warning system. for Okinawa Prefecture in southwestern Japan, in the suspected route of the rocket.

“Evacuate to buildings or underground,” the Japanese alert read.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan plans to keep missile defense systems deployed on its southern islands and southwestern waters until June 11, which is the end of the launch window announced by South Korea. North.

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.

Easley, the professor, said Kim 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 the Nuri-manufactured rocket. national 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.

Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press