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N. Korea says spy satellite launch failed due to midair blast during first-stage rocket flight

By Yonhap

Published : May 28, 2024 - 09:43

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The object salvaged by South Korea's military that is presumed to be part of the North Korean space-launch vehicle that crashed into sea following a launch failure in waters off on May 31, 2023 in Eocheongdo. (Gettyimages) The object salvaged by South Korea's military that is presumed to be part of the North Korean space-launch vehicle that crashed into sea following a launch failure in waters off on May 31, 2023 in Eocheongdo. (Gettyimages)

North Korea said Tuesday that its latest attempt to launch a new rocket carrying a military reconnaissance satellite ended in failure due to the midair explosion of the rocket during the first-stage flight this week.

The vice general director of the North's National Aerospace Technology Administration said the rocket carrying the satellite, the Malligyong-1-1, exploded after it lifted off from the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground on the country's northwest coast on Monday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The launch came just hours after South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Qiang held a trilateral summit in Seoul and reaffirmed their commitment to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.

It came in defiance of international warnings and criticism that any launch using ballistic missile technology, including that of a space launch vehicle, runs afoul of UN Security Council resolutions.

"The launch failed due to the air blast of the new-type satellite carrier rocket during the first-stage flight," the KCNA reported, citing the NATA official.

A preliminary examination by experts from the North's launch preparatory committee concluded that the "accident" was attributable to the operational reliability of a new "liquid oxygen plus petroleum" engine, the official said.

The other causes of the failure will also be examined, according to the KCNA.

Shortly after the launch, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the North's rocket ended up as "multiple pieces of debris" in an indication that the satellite launch went wrong.

JCS detected the rocket being launched southward over the Yellow Sea from the Tongchang-ri area in the country's northwest at about 10:44 p.m. on Monday.

Pyongyang had earlier notified Japan of a plan to launch a satellite sometime before June 4 and designated three areas, where rocket debris was to have fallen, as a precaution for safety. The liftoff came on the first day of the eight-day launch window.

The recalcitrant regime has planned to launch three satellites into orbit this year. In November, it successfully put its first military spy satellite into orbit.

Soon after the launch, the presidential National Security Office briefed President Yoon on it, according to his office. National Security Advisor Chang Ho-jin presided over a meeting of senior presidential security officials.

The participants at the meeting condemned the launch as a violation of UNSC resolutions and a provocative act that threatens peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and in the international community, according to the office.

US Indo-Pacific Command criticized the North's rocket launch, saying it is assessing the situation in close coordination with allies and partners.

"We are aware of the DPRK's May 27 launch using ballistic missile technology, which, is a brazen violation of multiple unanimous UNSC resolutions, raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond," the command said in a statement.

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

On Monday. the South's military warned it would take "powerful" measures in response to the North's launch plan, and staged air drills, involving advanced fighter jets, near the inter-Korean border in a show of force.

The botched launch came despite speculation that deepening military cooperation between the North and Russia might have helped Pyongyang advance its space rocket launch capabilities and other military programs.

Observers said the North appears intent to secure intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets as it is far behind the allies in ISR capabilities despite its focus on developing an array of formidable weapons systems, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles and tactical nuclear arms. (Yonhap)