N. Korea launches rocket, apparently ends up in failureNorth Korea launched a long-range rocket early on Friday, according to the South Korea’s defense ministry. The rocket, however, appears to have failed and fallen into the ocean, the ministry said.
"It seems that the rocket has failed," Kim Min-Seok, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, told reporters, adding that the rocket was launched at 07:39 a.m.
He said South Korea together with the United States were studying the trajectory of the rocket for more analysis for confirmation.
Immediately after the launch, the South Korean government issued an evacuation alert for those residing near the inter-Korean border to seek shelter against any possible debris from the rocket, Yonhap News Agency said.
Japan’s defense chief also said that North Korea had launched a “flying object,” that fell into the ocean after a short flight. “We have the information some sort of flying object had been launched from North Korea” around 7:40 a.m., Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka told reporters.
“The flying object is believed to have flown for more than one minute and fallen into the ocean. This does not affect our country’s territory at all.”
North Korea had said that it would launch Unha-3 rocket into orbit between April 12 and April 16 for what it claims is a peaceful purpose, but the international community regards it as a cover to test long-range missiles to ultimately carry on it weapons of mass destructions like nuclear warheads. South Korean official earlier said that North Korea appears to be preparing for a third nuclear test after the rocket launch.
The North is banned from conducting long-range missile tests under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874. AFP quoted a UN diplomat as saying that the UNSC will meet in emergency session on Friday “to decide its next step” following the launch.
The launch came despite the U.S.’ warning that it would violate a Feb.29 deal, under which the North promised several concessions including the suspension of nuclear, long-range missile tests in return for U.S. food assistance. “If Pyongyang goes forward (with the launch) we will all be back in the Security Council to take further action,” US Secretary of State Hillary told reporters after meetings with foreign ministers of the Group of Eight nations.
The 30-meter rocket had been prepared for the launch from the North’s new launch site in the country’s northwestern region.
The rocket launch coincides with the North’s increasing efforts to finalize power succession process from its late leader Kim Jong-il to his youngest son Kim Jong-un. On Wednesday, Kim Jong-un was appointed as the “first secretary” of the ruling party, the de facto leader of the regime. He was expected to add another major title held by his father, chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, at the Supreme People’s Assembly session, slated for today.
The North, strained to meet its self-pronounced goal of becoming a “strong and prosperous” country this year, is also planning a large-sized military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday, which marks the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung, the North’s founder and Kim Jong-un’s grandfather.
By Moon Gwang-lip