Despite warnings, N. Korea launches rocket / U.S. says action violates U.N. rules (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Andrew Salmon SEOUL 04/13/12)
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SEOUL — Defying international calls for restraint, North Korea
launched a three-stage, satellite-tipped rocket early Friday, though
military officials in South Korea and elsewhere said the test was a
The Unha-3 rocket was fired about 7:39 a.m. local time from its
launch pad at Dongchang-ri in the northwestern part of the country,
Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters in a
nationally televised news conference in South Korea.
But in a major embarrassment on a project timed to celebrate the
100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder, the missile
quickly fell apart.
“A few minutes after the launch, the rocket disintegrated into
several pieces and lost its altitude,” Mr. Kim said.
The Defense Ministry subsequently added that first- and second-stage
debris had landed in the Yellow Sea, some 120 to 130 miles off the
South Korean port of Kunsan.
The Japanese government, which has been closely monitoring launch
preparation, said the rocket reached an altitude of 75 miles, then
broke up into four pieces, which fell into the Yellow Sea.
There was no immediate official announcement from North Korean media
about the rocket launch. Although a number of global media
organizations were in the country, none were invited to witness the
launch, early reports from Pyongyang stated.
The launch had been condemned by the international community because
the technology used to launch a satellite into orbit is identical to
that used for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The U.N. Security Council meets Friday to discuss how to respond to
the North Korean launch, CNN reported.
Washington said the launch, which North Korea insists was for
peaceful purposes, violated U.N. resolutions.
“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,” White
House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that also said
President Obama was prepared to engage with North Korea, but the
state must first live up to its obligations.
A U.S. official told the Associated Press that the launch means
planned U.S. food aid to North Korea will be cancelled.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has called the launch “a
grave provocation” convened an emergency meeting Friday morning.
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said his country is “strongly
condemning North Korea’s new leadership” for ignoring international
warnings to cancel the launch. His ministry was planning to call his
counterparts in the Philippines and Australia to gather information
about the rocket.
South Korean crews were checking waters off the west coast, while
Japanese teams were searching waters near Okinawa for missile debris.
Meanwhile, experts were monitoring how high and how far the rocket
traveled to compare the measures to those of previous tests of what
the world believes were attempts by the North Koreans to develop
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in 2006 and 2009.
“The last test in 2009, the range was about [2,360 miles],” said Baek
Seung-joo of the Korea Institute of Defense Analysis (KIDA). “When
[North Korea] developed the Taepodong missile, it wanted a range of
[4,160 miles]. To fit the category of an ICBM, the range should be at
least [3,400 miles], so North Korea will assess success or failure
based on range.”
The firing was part of commemorations to mark the 100th birthday of
Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994. His grandson, Kim Jong-un, on
Wednesday officially was named “first secretary” of the North Korean
Workers Party; his father, Kim Jong-il, who died in December,
remains “eternal general secretary” of the party.
The North’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly,
was expected to convene Friday.
North Korea is now believed to have about six nuclear devices, though
it has not yet managed to compress its fissile materials into a
Mr. Baek, of KIDA, said that the North wants to be recognized as a de
facto nuclear state like Pakistan.
“Although the U.S. does not recognize Pakistan as a nuclear state,
Pakistan has secured a number of concessions from the U.S.,” said Mr.
Baek. “North Korea wants a similar pass. It is widely assumed for a
nation to be a nuclear power it needs to conduct three [to] four
nuclear tests. North Korean scholars show great interest in the
Other experts warned that North Korea will never give up its existing
“They might be willing to freeze existing programs, but will keep a
certain amount of nuclear devices - enough for the U.S. to pay
attention to their demands, and to ensure that the U.S. does not
attack them,” said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s
Kookmin University. (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 04/13/12)
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