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North Korea Acknowledges Failure Of Rocket Launch

  • RFE/RL

A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad.

A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket sitting on a launch pad.

North Korea has acknowledged the failure of its rocket launch.

State media said the country's satellite failed to enter orbit on April 13. "Scientists, technicians, and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure."

North Korea launched the Unha-3 rocket at 7:39 a.m. local time on April 13 from the Tongchang-ri site in the western part of the country. Japanese 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 effect on our territory."

U.S. and South Korean officials said the rocket's flight ended quickly after launch, with the first stage falling into the sea 165 kilometers west of Seoul and stages two and three failing.

The international community has condemned the rocket launch. G8 leaders say it breaches UN Security Council resolutions.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the international community has called upon North Korea not to conduct launches of long-range missiles and "this is the position of all the participants of the six-way negotiations."

The six-way negotiations, intended to defuse tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, involve Russia, China, the United States, Japan, and the two Koreas.

Japan called the launch unacceptable. "Today's launch is not something our nation can accept. We strongly protest North Korea and hereby express our anger," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told parliament in Tokyo on April 13.

"According to the resolution that was just passed, the Japanese government will urge North Korea to abide by all United Nations resolutions and strongly demand that North Korea show us a detailed progress plan and act toward solving the nuclear, missile, and abduction issues."

Japan accuses North Korea of forcibly abducting scores of its citizens from 1977 to 1983 to teach in North Korean spy schools.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the rocket launch shows "North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry."

The United States, South Korea, and other countries call the launch a cover for a test of missile technology.

'Provocative Act'

Pyongyang earlier announced it would send its three-stage rocket with a weather satellite into space as part of celebrations of the 100th birthday of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung, which is being marked on April 15.

The United States, 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 on April 13. The UN Security Council will hold an emergency session to discuss the launch.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is currently in the United States, 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, warned on April 12 that a launch would be a "violation" of UN sanctions imposed in 2009 after North Korea's last nuclear test.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan called the launch a "provocative act" and that it was a "clear breach of the UN resolution that prohibits any launch using ballistic-missile technology."

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said that "even if it was a failure, it is a grave provocation."

Foreign journalists who were invited to come to North Korea and report on the Kim Il Sung anniversary celebrations were apparently not informed of the rocket launch and were in the North Korean capital when it happened.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP and ITAR-TASS

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