Foreign governments condemn North Korea after spy satellite launch attempt

(Update 2: Adds par 11 – South Korea finding object in sea)

Seoul/Tokyo, May 31 (EFE).- International governments condemned North Korea on Wednesday as it vowed a second attempt to launch a rocket carrying a military spy satellite after the first crashed into the sea.

The satellite was launched on a Chollima-1 rocket, a new type of projectile, at 6.27 am local time (21:27 GMT Tuesday) from the Sohae space launch station, Pyongyang’s state Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

It said that the carrier rocket fell into the Yellow Sea “after losing thrust due to the abnormal starting of the second-stage engine after the separation of the first stage during the normal flight.”

The failure was attributable to “the low reliability and stability of the new-type engine system and unstable character of the fuel used,” a spokesperson for the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration quoted by KCNA said, adding it would thoroughly investigate the “serious” defects found and vowing to “conduct the second launch as soon as possible.”

The United States, Japan and South Korea all condemned the launch for violating United Nations resolutions.

“The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for its launch using ballistic missile technology, which is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond,” said National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge.

“This claimed space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile program,” he added, calling on Pyongyang to return to dialogue.

Seoul’s National Security Council “emphasized that this launch, regardless of whether it succeeded, was a grave violation of UN Security Council resolutions and a serious provocation threatening peace and safety on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community, and condemned this.”

Japan’s Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that “we cannot tolerate this kind of launch whether it is a satellite or anything else, as it violates UN resolutions.”

Before Pyongyang’s launch announcement, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had reported that the rocket had crashed into the Yellow Sea about 200 kilometers west of Eocheong island (50 kilometers west of the South Korean coast) due to an abnormal flight.

The JCS later reported it found what it believes to be part of the “space launch vehicle” in that same area. Images provided show a large metal cylindrical object in the water.

The North Korean launch prompted the activation of government anti-missile alerts at around 6.30 am local time in Seoul and in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, which were later lifted.

Pyongyang said Tuesday that in June it would launch a space rocket loaded with a military reconnaissance satellite, in line with its weapons modernization goals.

Seoul and Tokyo, which called emergency meetings, suspect that the launch – as with previous launches of North Korean satellites – is a covert test of ballistic missile technology, which would punishable by UN sanctions that weigh on Pyongyang. EFE


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