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

    Comment number 35.

    North Korea will always be a threat and will never open up to the rest of the world. Basically because - How will they explain all their lies when the population get to see the outside world?

    It won't be war between us and them
    It'll be a full blown revolution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    "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.

    ''The US is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda while American people go hungry'', said me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    In 18 months time we'll all be here again commentating on N Korea's actions, and discussing the UN's tough rhetoric and toothless delivery.

    The UN will then resume talks, deals will be made, deals will be broken, there will be another launch, and the UN will issue more tough but toothless rhetoric. Ad infinitum.

    It's getting really boring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Xbox tonight Ed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    @21.pav212 What is most interesting (to me at least) is the apparent >>openness on national TV

    The South Koreans launched a space rocket last year that also crashed after launch. I just get the feeling that North Korea launched this knowing that it wouldn't be worse than their rival government south of the border, hence the "relatively" more open nature of the launch with foreign journalists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    #20. mc
    Yes I believe that Berwick-0n-Tweed is technically at war with England. But don't tell the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.


    I love the way China gets to play Big Boy International politics with North Korean, yet look at how North Korean refugees are treated in China, inhumane doesn't even begin to describe it!!!!


  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    "Allies ? we are not in WW2 anymore, the BBC is always trying to start wars"

    By the looks of North Korea's out of date control room (Mission Control HQ) North Korea are still stuck in WW2.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I find it quite extraordinary how a whole nation of people can be brainwashed like N korea's leaders have brainwashed its people. they are going to be mighty upset when they find out the truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    I was vilified on the previous thread for mentioning America withdrawing food aid, so I won't here. Glad to see though that some of the early comments here are rational.

    Many countries spend what they don't have on weapons. Greece is in the midst of the mother of all recessions, but no one asks why they are still buying three brand new submarines from Germany.

    Oop's, there I go again ... ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    12"How does anyone, apart from [NK] actually *know*"

    It was reported on PBS News that American space experts analyzed photos of what was purported to be the payload.They say no spacefaring nation would handle that kind of equipment the way NK's technicians did if it was real.They say for all we know NK may be launching nothing more than "a bag of rocks."So far NK is mostly bluff and bluster

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Was it condemned because it didn't hit a village full women and children?

    We know how much the allies like things done, their way.

    Maybe that's why they're so disappointed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Imagine if this rocket was carrying a missile.
    It could of exploded anywhere, even killing its own people
    If i was in China , S.Korea or Japan I wouldn't feel too safe.
    Do you not think the other super powers were monitoring this launch from a far ?
    N.Korea had no choice but to inform of its failure before they did

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Yes or no, or, more fundamentally should the DPRK have made the launch is now immaterial, its up to the politicians and the inevitable sanctions to dictate the next actions.

    What is most interesting (to me at least) is the apparent openness on national TV (OK only the privileged few have access to) of the apparent "non success" (let's not loose too much face).

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    15 Minutes ago
    Allies ? we are not in WW2 anymore, the BBC is always trying to start wars

    I believe actually, that North Korea is still technically at war since the 1950s, as only a ceasefire was agreed, not a peace treaty ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    "Allies", always the divisive tone, always us and them.

    By the way, how successful were the launches of the first American satellites?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    It's a difficult situation the old North Korea one. While their leadership is corrupt and basically evil - it is unfair to declare war or "nuke" them as 99.99% of the population is, not only, innocent but totally brainwashed about the outside world. They are told that we are barbarians and their army is keeping the wolves from the door. Heck, their old leader was God - or so he told them anyway.

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.


    It used to be the Russians are comming to get you..... Then it was
    Iraq was comming to get you!
    Afghanistan was comming to get you!
    Iran was comming to get you!

    And now it's Korea!

    All guff and hot air whipped up by the media.

    Wake up you sheep!


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