June 16, 2024

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A North Korean satellite sinks into the sea after a missile hit

A North Korean satellite sinks into the sea after a missile hit

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – A North Korean satellite launch on Wednesday ended in failure after the second stage of the rocket failed, causing the booster and payload to fall into the sea, state media said.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that the launch of the new missile “Cholima-1” failed due to the instability of the engine and fuel system.

The flight was the nuclear-armed country’s sixth attempted satellite launch, and its first since 2016. It was supposed to put North Korea’s first spy satellite into orbit.

Emergency alerts and brief evacuation warnings prompted parts of South Korea and Japan. Notifications have been withdrawn without any risk or harm being reported.

North Korea said it would launch its first military reconnaissance satellite between May 31 and June 11 to enhance monitoring of US military activities.

South Korea last week put satellites into orbit with a domestically designed and produced rocket for the first time, and China sent three astronauts to its space station as part of a crew rotation on Tuesday.

Warnings have been issued

In statements provided to international authorities, North Korea said the launch would carry the missile south, with stages and other debris expected to fall over the Yellow Sea and into the Pacific Ocean.

Air raid sirens sounded across the South Korean capital of Seoul around 6:32 am (2132 GMT Tuesday) as the city warned citizens to prepare for a possible evacuation. Subsequent alerts said the city’s warning was wrong.

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The Japanese government issued an emergency J-Alert broadcasting system warning for residents of the southern prefecture of Okinawa to take shelter indoors early Wednesday morning.

It later said the missile would not fly to Japanese territory and lifted the warnings.

Rocket technology

On Tuesday, Ri Byong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said the ongoing joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea required Pyongyang to have “the means capable of gathering information about the military actions of” the enemy. in real time.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s launch, the US State Department said any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology would violate several United Nations Security Council resolutions.

A US State Department spokesperson said that “Space Launch Vehicles (SLVs) include technologies that are identical to and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles, including ICBMs.”

North Korea has attempted to launch five more satellites, with two being put into orbit, including during the last such launch in 2016. However, analysts say its ability to build working satellites remains unproven.

“As far as we know, North Korea has a very limited capacity to build satellites,” said Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation, a US-based space political and security organisation. They had launched two satellites before, but they all failed immediately after launch or shortly thereafter, and none of them appeared to have any significant capability.

Additional reporting by Hyunhee Shin, Joo Min Park, and Josh Smith in Seoul, and Changran Kim in Tokyo; Additional reporting by David Brunstrom in Washington. Editing by Chris Reese, Sonali Paul, Christian Schmollinger and Jerry Doyle

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