North Korea Calls Its Satellite Launch One Of Most Serious Failures

Image Source: MarketWatch

A North Korean satellite launch that failed will provide a trove of information about the secretive state’s rocket program as South Korea salvages large sections from the bottom of the sea. The Navy said Friday that it recovered two more pieces of what was dubbed the Chollima-1 rocket, including a cylindrical section with “Chonma,” or winged horse, written on its outside, from waters about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of the island of Eocheongdo. South Korea’s military said the piece is likely from the rocket’s second stage. It’s the first time the military has found such a large section of the wreckage, but it’s not the last that could be pulled up from the ocean floor.

North Korea’s attempt to put a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit failed when its newly developed rocket lost thrust between the first and second stages and fell into the sea, state-affiliated media reported. The hermit kingdom blamed the launch failure on the “abnormal starting” of the rocket’s second-stage engine and vowed to make another successful satellite launch soon.

The North’s ruling Workers’ Party called the failure a “grave disaster” at an enlarged meeting of its Central Committee and ordered scientists to analyze what went wrong and prepare for another launch within a short period, KCNA news agency said Monday. It added that the officials and scientists responsible for preparing the rocket were harshly criticized.

In addition to the spy satellite, the North hoped to deploy a communications and broadcasting satellite. The satellites would help improve the performance of long-range missiles and other weapons systems, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The North already has shown it can fire a missile that can reach the continental United States, and critics say the new satellites will aid in gathering intelligence on Western military forces in the region.

But the international community has warned that Pyongyang’s repeated satellite launches violate UN resolutions against the country. The United States and its allies have deployed naval assets near the border to counter North Korean provocations.

Despite the international condemnation of the rocket launch, high-ranking members of the hermit kingdom’s regime defended it. They threatened more weapons tests and military exercises in a tit-for-tat campaign. Kim Jong Un’s sister and other senior leaders argued that the country had the right to continue developing satellite technology, which could help it improve its military capabilities.

The latest launch may have been a show of force for the North and an attempt to demonstrate its technical prowess in the face of international pressure. But the mission’s failure also could hurt the government’s efforts to develop its ballistic missile technology and raise concerns about a possible war on the peninsula. The burgeoning pace of weapons testing and missile launches has been matched by a rapid increase in North Korea’s joint military exercises with South Korea, in which the North is seeking to show it can hold its own against its southern neighbor.

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