North Korea rocket launch fails

2012-04-13 07:12

Pyongyang - North Korea admitted its much hyped long-range rocket failed to deliver a satellite into orbit on Friday while US and South Korean officials said it crashed into the sea a few minutes after launch, dealing a blow to the reclusive state.

Pyongyang had defied international pressure from the United States, the United Nations and others to push ahead with the launch timed to celebrate the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, the deceased founder of the state, and to coincide with the ascent to power of his grandson Kim Jong-un.

Even close ally China had warned against the launch and South Korean intelligence officials have said North Korea may be ready to follow it up with a nuclear test as it did after a rocket launch in 2009, even though it could face more United Nations sanctions if it did.

Failed to enter its preset orbit

"The earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit," a newsreader said on North Korea's state TV. "Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure."

It was an unusual admission of failure by the unpredictable regime, since it will be seen by its 23 million people who are only given access to state-controlled news sources. A similarly-failed launch in 2009 was touted by the North as a success.

Friday's launch breached the terms of a recent aid deal struck with the United States as well as United Nations sanctions. Washington, Tokyo and Seoul issued sharp rebukes and said they would step up co-operation and vigilance.

"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 spokesperson Jay Carney said in a statement.

North Korea said it wanted the Unha-3 rocket to put a weather satellite into orbit, although critics believed it was designed to enhance its capacity to design a ballistic missile to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States.

The rocket crashed in a sea that separates the Korean peninsula from China off the west coast of South Korea after flying 120km from its launch site close to the Chinese border, officials in Seoul, Washington and Tokyo said.

The North American Aerospace Defence Command, NORAD, said the first stage fell into the sea west of South Korea, and the remainder of the satellite-carrying missile was deemed to have failed.

"No debris fell on land," NORAD said. "At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat.

The world's most militarised border separates North and South Korea and the two states remain technically at war after an armistice ended the Korean War in 1953.

South Korea said it was dispatching ships to try to retrieve the rocket, which it said split into 20 fragments as the first and second stages failed to separate, showing that the new rocket had failed to travel as far as the previous one in 2009.

A Russian observer, a space policy expert from the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, told Reuters in Pyongyang that long range rocket launches took time to perfect.

"So I would be quite surprised if the third launch of a North Korean rocket would end up in a success, although I believe that they had from 60 to 70% chance to successfully put the satellite into orbit," said Yuri Karash.

China also a loser

The launch was announced just weeks after a "Leap Year" deal that saw Washington agree to provide food aid. Among the promises made by Pyongyang in return was that it would not launch a long range rocket or undertake nuclear tests.

Loud complaints from the United States, South Korea and Japan will likely lead to pressure for more sanctions to close Pyongyang's access to trade that could aid the North's programme, although China would probably resist even though its diplomacy failed to stop the rocket.

"After giving so much aid to North Korea, it still did not listen to China, and this hurt China-North Korea relations and erodes domestic support in its continued support of North Korea," said Shen Dingli, a professor and regional security expert at Shanghai's Fudan University.

"This also undermines confidence in the US-China relationship, and whether China had done enough to persuade the North. So, China is also a loser, but not as big a loser as if North Korea succeeded in its launch," he said.

A tough push for sanctions, which Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda pledged, could lead to a show of defiance from the North such as a nuclear test, or an attack like the one in 2010 that saw it shell a South Korean island, killing civilians.

"Rather than any conventional provocation, I think North Korea will watch what US and South Korea are doing and prepare for a nuclear test," said Chung Young-chul, a professor at Sogang University's Graduate School of Public Policy.

First crisis for Kim Jong-un

Now led by 20-something Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to hold power, North Korea had planned to make 2012 the year in which it became a "strong and prosperous nation" and the launch was part of a programme to burnish its credentials.

It even invited foreign media in to cover the birthday celebrations and showed them the launch site.

Kim was named First Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea on Wednesday, as he accumulates titles and posts similar to those held by his father, Kim Jong-il.

State newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Friday dubbed him "the sun whom all the party members, service personnel and people of the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) acclaimed out of their heartfelt desire".

"(There is) no question that the failed launch turns speculation toward the ramifications for the leadership in Pyongyang: a fireworks display gone bad on the biggest day of the year," said Scott Snyder of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Although North Korea is one of the most tightly controlled states on earth, with no free media and a tight grip on its population, such a high profile failure could trigger a backlash among the country's elite and places question marks over Kim Jong-un.

"This is the first crisis for the new leader that has just taken over," said Lee Jong-won, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo.

"It is inevitable that they will look to find who is responsible for the failure, and I wonder what the treatment will be for those in the military and the hard-line officers who have pressed for the launch."

  • Lyndatjie - 2012-04-13 07:18

    Are we sure there was a satellite at the end of that rocket?

      Zing - 2012-04-13 07:28

      Dunno about that, but the next rocket is probably going to have someone's head mounted on it.

      Lyndatjie - 2012-04-13 07:54

      Zing - hopefully Mal-ennema's???

      spartanx93 - 2012-04-13 08:26

      The rocket will not provide enough thrust for lift off with the weight of malema's ego.....

      Jack - 2012-04-13 08:31

      lol...brilliant...f'ing communists. Perhaps if they had capitalism their engineers would be eager to work harder.

      Greg - 2012-04-13 08:52

      Haha, all that hype, and now, FAIL!! Try keep it a bit more low key next time North Korea!!

      Slick - 2012-04-13 08:57

      LOL! Just like the ANC "rocket Scientists" aka as the Government of the day in the RSA who have attempted to Govern South Africa...Everything they touch /ed or involve /ed themselves in.. FAIL /ED AND CRASHES /ED before it ever reaches its goals / destination... hahahah!!

      mmoledis - 2012-04-13 09:40

      I am also not sure, I agree with you I am also having doubts of what was in it, such state is dangerous the world must keep a close eye on them. No body knows what was really on that rocket. BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH that was what said in one of Shakespear's books.The world have to be alert.

  • zaatheist - 2012-04-13 07:24

    Some poor North Korean rocketeers are in for the high jump.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-13 07:24

    Scientists, technicians and experts are now on the run, trying to avoid a firing squad !!

      Vuyo - 2012-04-13 07:27

      lol u just made my day. - 2012-04-13 07:41

      'some-bodies' are going to get the 'chop'

      Lyndatjie - 2012-04-13 07:55

      OH lol... you are right! The blame game must have begun because now this haughty nation and its strange head of state has lost face.... YIKES!

      Rvn - 2012-04-13 08:21

      LOL thats why they keep failing because the Scientists, technicians and experts never get to learn from their mistakes! They face the firing squad then the new guys come along and try to build a rocket! :p

      Alan - 2012-04-13 09:46

      Maybe not the firing squad - they may be setalight

  • Zing - 2012-04-13 07:26

    There are others that weren't going to allow them to have an observation satellite in space anyway. Even if it had succeeded, the satellite would've mysteriously fallen from the sky. Or maybe it did just that . . And there goes their national food budget for the year - sploosh in the sea.

  • revaro.winkler - 2012-04-13 07:37

    friday the 13 geus whos bombing the ocean floor in a strategic move whers america now insurgents

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-13 07:42

      ok, I'm trying real hard here. But what the hell did you just say?

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-13 07:51

      Think I nailed it. It must be: 'Friday the 13. Guess who's bombing the ocean floor in a strategic move? Where's america now, insurgents?'

      Lyndatjie - 2012-04-13 08:00

      Ok - what about: "Friday. The 13 guests who's bomb in the ocean floor is a strategic move where America is. Detergents"

      dewalds3 - 2012-04-13 08:30

      It talks!!! It is saying something about Zeuss - maybe it means Neptune?

      Stirrer - 2012-04-13 09:26

      LOL @Lyndatjie! :D

      Alan - 2012-04-13 09:29

      Whaahaa yo all! Ocean's 13 American guests were deterred from sweeping underwater bombers.

      Jaco - 2012-04-13 14:06

      It's Friday! The 13 guys who lies bombed on O'Sean's floor are strategically moving the whores americano's. Now IN; sure gents!

  • Michele - 2012-04-13 07:39


  • CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-13 07:41

    Kim Il Jong Bombs. What a mess !!! North Korea must stop hiring firecracker makers to build their war rockets. Eish.

      Alan - 2012-04-13 09:29

      Made in China no doubt.

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-13 07:43

    Pfft, so much for holding our breaths for the 'highly anticipated rocket launch'...

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-13 07:48

      Kim Jong Bomb is going to be one very upset teenager. He's currently reading "Firing Squads for Dummies" and is fuming!

      Alan - 2012-04-13 09:44

      What? It failed? Perhaps they did not planet well! Watch this space.

  • brionyl.french - 2012-04-13 07:45

    Bwahahahahaha What an Epic FAIL!

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-13 07:52

      SkyNews - "The world has anticipated this moment. We are all watching and waiting for the imminent launch of this North Korean rocket. In 3, 2, 1, we have lift off. From the ashes rishes this nuclear super pow - oh, oh my, look at that. Bloody thing's just popped like a dodgy condom. And down she goes ..."

      Alan - 2012-04-13 09:59

      whaaha Charles - and that really is SkyNews!!

  • rlong1952 - 2012-04-13 07:52

    Best news I have had for a long time, here's hoping that evil regime will be overthrown sooner rather than later and that the people of NK can be free of their evilness and oppression.

  • bluzulu - 2012-04-13 07:54


  • Amith - 2012-04-13 07:59

    Was it a Stomp Rocket? My kids and I went to Port Elizabeth and pointed our Stomp Rocket at Mauritius and it too landed in the sea.

      Mark - 2012-04-13 08:09

      If you were in PE and pointed your rocket at Mauritius you more than likely hit somebody in Motherwell. lol

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-13 08:11

      You right Mark, at that angle it would probably pass over Nelspruit.

  • Stephan - 2012-04-13 08:11

    Just anotha case off premature elevation...haha,I feel for u kimmi

  • Lumko Ntshinka - 2012-04-13 08:27

    Lol mfxm more like a khanyi mbau state, bloody attention seekers.

  • Nosiphom - 2012-04-13 08:39

    They are now analysing the telemetry data to see what might have gone wrong. In this kind of game, it is trial and error, depending on whether you have any powerful simulation software. The next one will go into orbit.

      Heiku - 2012-04-13 08:46

      Trail and error that the rest of the world went through in the 60's LOL

  • Dale - 2012-04-13 08:39

    bloody marvelous !! shooting blanks !!!

  • joeballito - 2012-04-13 08:40

    It is nice to know America's "star wars" laser beams are working sooo well!

  • olerilwe.mosiane - 2012-04-13 08:42

    this was not a saterlite launch bt a long distance missle launch.dont b fool by north korea,this is china's lab dog

      Slick - 2012-04-13 09:27

      And the ANC Government is NOT a Chinese lab dog??? LOL!! Just like JuJu and Floyd and the ancyl cant get anything right either. Every button they push Blows Up in their faces..LOL!

  • Ian - 2012-04-13 08:54

    zongs, dong, went pong

  • Mark - 2012-04-13 09:27

    It just shows that that little squirt can't control the military. Most of them are over 80 and wouldn't even listen to 'pipsqueak' Kim Jong Il - his other son, Kim Jong Nam recently diclosed in his book, 'Hello, I'm Kim Jong Nam'. Those old nutters have to die off before any real progress can be made; their last memory of South Korea is the one as seen through their rear view mirrors on their Russian supplied vehicles as they fled back to Pyeongyang. Expert cowards sitting pretty behind their artillery and failed rockets while their country starves.

      Alan - 2012-04-13 09:33

      Roughly translated means - the firing squad looms.

  • Jean - 2012-04-13 09:35

    American Laser Beam

  • NinetiethOwl - 2012-04-13 09:49

    Shame. Would've been nice to see them pull it off.

  • blackcid - 2012-04-13 09:57

    How does Malema and North Korea link up (You guys are wankers). Sorry North Korea, They tried but as Jack said their current regime is Messing with their lives. A nd about that Kid who is now ruler: That was too much ambition, but I guess you win some you loose some. (What is up with his age: So the reporter was so hung up on the story that he could not get facts straight... Free Media). I cant Believe after so many successful launches in history that carried way more complex cargo, they would fail on a "Simple" Rocket Launch: Something Smells Fishy for me, there are way to many onlookers.

      Alan - 2012-04-13 10:00

      er .. so now Julius prefers Something Fishy to KFC? whaahaa

  • Stephen - 2012-04-13 10:31

    Lies, all lies from the Imperialist western propaganda that is foreign media. Oh wait, that paragon of truth virtue KCN or the ministry of truth has admitted it. Still North Korea is best Korea.

      Alan - 2012-04-13 10:34

      eish - dem weeds!

  • Jaba - 2012-04-13 14:37


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