May 19, 2024

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North Korea: Failed satellite launch was a ‘major failure’

North Korea: Failed satellite launch was a ‘major failure’

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean state media said on Monday that the failed launch of a military satellite last month was the “biggest failure”, but vowed it would soon succeed in its quest.

North Korea’s ruling party made an assessment of its May 31 launch at a three-day meeting that ended Sunday, ordering workers and researchers to analyze the mission, which ended with the missile and its payload of spy satellites falling into the sea, and to prepare. Another launch soon.

Officials who “irresponsibly made preparations” for the failed launch were “severely criticized” at the meeting, KCNA reported.

North Korea said at the time that the missile failed “after losing thrust due to abnormal operation of the second stage engine”.

Nuclear-armed North Korea earlier said it would launch its first military reconnaissance satellite to enhance monitoring of US military activities, another step in a military program that has raised fears of war.

The South Korean Navy last week found a large cylindrical section of the missile, which it lifted from the sea off the west coast, which experts said could provide clues to North Korea’s missile development.

North Korean state media said the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party also discussed strengthening nuclear capabilities and stepping up nuclear weapons production.

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The agency said leader Kim Jong Un attended the meeting, but did not say whether he delivered a speech or delivered a report, as he usually does at such important policy-making sessions.

A spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said the lack of a report of a letter by Kim was “extremely rare”.

That, and blaming low-ranking officials for the launch failure, could indicate a loss of confidence, the ministry said.

The party also discussed securing adequate food supplies.

South Korea recently said that the food situation in the North, which has suffered famines in the past, “seems to be deteriorating”.

Isolated North Korea is under international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, and its economy has been further strained by self-imposed border closures aimed at stopping COVID-19.

Separately, KCNA reported that Kim Yong Chol, a senior official believed to be sidelined after a 2019 summit with the US ended in failure, has been appointed as an alternate member of the Political Bureau of the party’s Central Committee.

Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Diane Craft, Robert Purcell

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