PYONGYANG/WASHINGTON: Defying international warning of censure, North Korea on Friday went ahead to launch a long-range rocket, which blew apart after blastoff, drawing condemnation from US and its allies who called it “provocative”.
Maintaining hours of silence over the launch, North Korea’s state-run news media admitted that the satellite that the rocket had been carrying “failed to enter its preset orbit”.
The North Korean Central News Agency said, “Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of failure”.
This is the first time that North Korea has acknowledged failure of a long-range missile or satellite.
“Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments,” the White House Press Secretary, Mr Jay Carney said.
“While this action is not surprising given North Korea’s pattern of aggressive behaviour, any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community.
“The US remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security of our allies in the region,” Mr Carney said in a statement.
He said North Korea’s long-standing development of missiles and pursuit of nuclear weapons has not brought it security – and never will.
“North Korea will only show strength and find security by abiding by international law, living up to its obligations, and by working to feed its citizens, to educate its children, and to win the trust of its neighbours,” he said.
US Defence officials, who were monitoring the missile launch, said that it was a complete failure.
“The missile was tracked on a southerly launch over the Yellow Sea,” the Pentagon said in a statement. The US systems detected and tracked a launch of the North Korean Taepo Dong-2 missile at 6:39 p.m New York time.
“Initial indications are that the first stage of missile fell into the sea 165 km west of Seoul, South Korea. The remaining stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land. At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat,” the statement said.
The North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and the US military’s Northern Command “detected and tracked a launch of the North Korean Taepodong-2 missile,” NORAD said in a statement.
North Korea had said the aim of the rocket was to launch a satellite into orbit – a move marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung and for “peaceful research.”
However, the western critics say the launch constituted a disguised test of long-range missile technology banned under UN resolutions.
Meanwhile, South Korea also said that the rocket ended in failure.