North Korean Rocket Launch Fails
April 13, 2012
Despite warnings and appeals from many countries, North Korea went ahead with a rocket launch Friday but officials in South Korea, Japan and the U.S. said it appeared the rocket was failed not long after the launch.
North Korea launched the Unha-3 rocket at 7:39 local time from the Tongchang-ri site in the western part of the country. Japan's Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said, "We have received information that there was some sort of object launched. It appears to have flown for over a minute and then fallen into the ocean." Tanaka added, "There has been absolutely no affect on our territory."
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Seoul had the same information. "A few minutes after the launch, the rocket disintegrated into several pieces and lost its altitude," Kim said. Kim said U.S. officials also confirmed the rocket crashed into the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula.
Japanese broadcaster NHK cited defense ministry sources as saying the rocket flew some 120 kilometers then broke into four pieces.
Pyongyang still has not commented on the launch or its results. North Korea earlier announced it would send its three-stage rocket with a weather satellite into space as part of celebrations of the 100th birthday the country's founder Kim Il-sung, which is being marked on Sunday (April 15).
The U.S., Britain, Japan and other countries said any North Korean rocket launch would be a violation of UN resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from nuclear and ballistic missile activity. Even China, one of North Korea's closest allies, had urged Pyongyang to refrain from the launch, saying it would increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
More bad news appeared to be coming for North Korea later Friday. The UN Security Council will hold an emergency session to discuss the launch. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is currently in the U.S., said upon hearing of the launch, "The Security Council of the United Nations must give a strong answer to this violation of international law."
Even Russia, seen as being on good terms with reclusive North Korea's leadership, appears ready to talk about taking measures against Pyongyang for its defiance of UN resolutions. Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin had warned Thursday that a launch would be a "violation" of UN sanctions imposed in 2009 after North Korea's last nuclear test.
Foreign journalists who were invited to come to North Korea and report on the celebrations marking 100 years since the birth of Kim Il-sung were apparently not informed of the rocket launch and were in the North Korean capital when it happened.
With Reuters, AFP, AP and ITAR-TASS reporting
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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