UN 'deplores' North Korea botched rocket launch

 

Giant statues of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung were unveiled despite the rocket failure

The UN Security Council has deplored the launch by North Korea of a rocket which broke up shortly after take-off.

A statement issued after closed-door talks said the launch was in breach of two Security Council resolutions.

Consultations on an appropriate response would continue, "given the urgency of the matter", it continued.

In an unusual step, the North admitted the launch of the satellite had failed, and went ahead with planned celebrations in Pyongyang.

The UN statement, read by the current Security Council chair, US ambassador Susan Rice, said the launch broke UNSC resolutions 1718 and 1874.

They imposed tough sanctions against North Korea following earlier rocket launches in 2006 an 2009.

Ms Rice would not say what sort of response they were considering. But she added: "We think a credible reaction is important."

The failure of this launch is embarrassing for the North Korean regime. It had been billed as a sign of the North's technical achievement.

But the news that it had failed was only given at midday local time. For four hours after the launch, there was no word at all. The international journalists assembled in the press centre were told nothing. Then state media said rocket scientists and technicians were looking into why it failed to reach orbit.

In previous days, we had been taken to see the launch pad on the West Sea site. North Korea wanted to insist this was just a satellite launch and not a test of missile technology as others had feared. It wanted to show us its mastery of technology.

The failure is a serious blow to the prestige of Kim Jong-un. It was hoped showcasing the North's technological achievements would reinforce the young man's right to the mantle of power.

The fear is he may now respond with a new show of strength, perhaps by testing a nuclear device.

But Aidan Foster-Carter, Korea analyst at Leeds University, said he found the prospect of more international action "a bit dreary".

Food aid cancelled

"I wish we could find a way not to paint North Korea further into the corner they're busy painting themselves into," he told the BBC. "We need to engage with them and draw them out but they have again made that harder."

Earlier, Washington accused the communist state of threatening regional security. It said North Korea had isolated itself still further from the outside world.

The US has also cancelled a proposed food aid deal with Pyongyang.

A US National Security Council spokesman said they would look at additional sanctions if Pyongyang continued its "provocations".

In February, North Korea agreed to a partial freeze in nuclear activities and a missile test moratorium in return for US food aid.

Washington suspended the deal when the missile launch was announced last month.

'Provocative acts'

The official reason for the launch had been to put a satellite into orbit in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the state's founder, Kim Il-sung.

Susan Rice, UN: "Members of the security council deplored this launch"

Kim Jong-un, his grandson, led tens of thousands of people in lavish celebrations in central Pyongyang at which giant statues were unveiled to both his grandfather and his late father, Kim Jong-il.

Many outside the country saw the launch as an illegal test of long-range missile technology.

North Korea fired the Unha-3 rocket around 07:40 local time (22:40 GMT Thursday) from a site in Cholsan County on the western coast, according to South Korean and US monitors.

It disintegrated after a minute or two, falling into waters 165km (105 miles) west of the South Korean capital, Seoul, the monitors said.

"North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan accused the North of a "clear breach of the UN resolution that prohibits any launch using ballistic missile technology".

China and Russia, North Korea's closest allies, called for a resumption of the stalled multi-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme.

'With our lives'

Confirming the rocket failure, North Korea's state news agency KCNA said briefly: "The Earth observation satellite failed to enter its pre-set orbit.

Start Quote

Pyongyang's technocrats and doves may finally seize their chance and see off the militarists”

End Quote

"Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure."

In Pyongyang, events to cement Kim Jong-un's assumption of power after the death of his father in December continued on Friday with a special session of the supreme people's assembly (parliament).

The assembly appointed Mr Kim, 29, as "first chairman" of the country's top decision-making body, the National Defence Commission.

At the same time, his late father was made the commission's "eternal chairman".

Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the Museum of Revolutionary Struggle on Mansu Hill to see the statues being unveiled.

"All party members and troops should hold the respected comrade Kim Jong-un in high esteem... and protect him with our lives under any circumstances," North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, told the crowd.

The monuments to the former leaders replace a single statue of Kim Il-sung which previously occupied the site.

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 197.

    Countries like North Korea and Iran and others mistakenly think that they have to arm themselves with nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the West. These countries don't want attention from the West. Why don't they realise that by developing nuclear weapons they are just attracting more attention from the West and other countries? So all they have to do is stop developing nuclear weapons.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 191.

    It is possible to recognise that NK are a brutal regime, but still see the hypocrisy of the west. What any sovereign nation decides to do is no business of any other country, unless they or their interests are threatened by those actions. NK are realistically only a threat to themselves, and South Korea. Other countries should sort out their own problems before interfering elsewhere.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 142.

    I think there is a huge amount of hypocracy going on here. It seems to be popular to look at North Korea as some sort of devil state in a world full of well meaning democracies. All states test, use, finance or sell weapons. The fear comes from value judgments made against a non-conforming society. We know very little about NK. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 83.

    Has anyone considered the fact that the 'unusual' step of reporting this launch as a failure NK are actually trying to lead the West and it's neighbours into a false sense of security when in fact they might have more capable missles than they are letting on??

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 17.

    I just don't understand how South Korean rocket tests (which incidentally also crashed after takeoff) and joint US-South Korean military exercises off the North Korean coast aren't labelled as "provocative" but the NK launch of a satellite is?
    I think the NK government is terrible but we are forcing them into a corner and making them more paranoid. That is more dangerous than if we used a carrot.

 

Comments 5 of 6

 

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