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 155.

    As with Iran, NK's primitive clumsy efforts to become a world military power is creating a menace for themselves, their region, the world.If they can't be dissuaded from continuing down that path, eventually they will have to be neutralized by all necessary means for the greater good of the world.Were the US truly a malevolant and agressive power that would be its first choice not its last resort

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    I think most posters have a real grip on the situation in N.Korea, basically centering on two words
    But that won't stop our `governments' telling us otherwise or possibly engaging in the use of W.M.D leaving 100s of thousands of civilians dead in order to `save them' War is Peace

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    How much more Friday 13th do you want to get about it?!
    Joking aside, I still admire NK for being so open with the situation, inviting international press, etc.
    But didn't anyone think this was going to happen, given Nk is so shut off from the outside world, the expertise just isnt there.


  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    [Squints at map in BBC article]

    They say they want to launch a WEATHER sat, their first sat ever to boot, and point the rocket STRAIGHT SOUTH? Did they invent new orbital mechanics, too, or do they plan to move to Antarctica and therefor need their "weather satellite" on a polar orbit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    The leaders of this country (US) do not have a leg to stand on when they carry out assinations, secret covert operations in countries we do not like and support secret rendition and indefinite imprisonment without legal representation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    If NK are such a threat to world peace, why doesn't the usa invade them? They are not usually shy about ignoring the UN, or invading sovereign nations, whats stopping them this time?

    Could it be that there are no natural resources worth stealing in NK, or maybe NK are a bit better prepared to fight back against foreign invaders, than the weaker nations who so often fall victim to usa warcrimes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    At least when it malfunctioned (assuming it wasn't destroyed on purpose), it exploded over the sea and didn't divert to Japan and explode or crash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Western governments are so hypocritical, it's pathetic. North Korea and Iran are constantly being sanctioned, etc for emulating the West. Tsk tsk. Who are we as westerners to judge others? Shameful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    I think a lot of people forget about the mindset of the North Koreans, they think this family are Gods! Clearly they're going to celebrate in style to mark the 100th year of the Great Leader's birth! We're 2012 years later and we still celebrate every year...

    I might be missing something here but did the US not pull out of a ban of testing ballistic missiles in 2002?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    "Yes the regime is pretty appalling but the more they are pushed out and isolated by the international community the worse it will get."

    That's what certain Neville Chamberlain believed in 1938 when securing a "peace for our time".

    Peacniks, appeasers, and unfortuntely not only they, found out how that peace looked like merely a year later. :-(((

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    further to my last #139
    what can this be used for? i think they want to look over the wall into their neighbours' back yard. also... it might be a diversion tactic, but from what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    It's OK to condemn this bufoonish, macho sabre rattling - but only if you've never done it yourself.

    There's rather a few kettles calling the pot black here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    I believe the NK Rocket did recieve extensive support from the west. As identified Renault played a part; being french it surrendered to gravity straight away. NASA sold some parts from the Shuttle on ebay. The plans were drawn up by an italian guy responsible for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. As for the cargo, it is transmitting as a weather satellite although all weather forecasts are for rain.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 141.

    95Von Braun learned rocket science from the American Goddard.In Goddard's honor we've named a NASA facilitiy after him


    Home grown or attracted to us the world's best come to the US, our technology is unparalleled.In various specific areas in limited ways there may be some firsts elsewhere but on balance US is the place to be in technology

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Washington and its allies have condemned North Korea for launching a satellite rocket which broke up over the sea shortly after take-off.


  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    before i moved to london in 1965 missile tests in florida where often of the "IBRM"... aka into banana river missile.
    a liquid fueled rocket it not an effective weapons system as it takes an age to lauch. the americans came up with the solid fuel "minute man" ICBM and that was sucessful. So... the writing on the wall... is to use solid fuel for a weapon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    "Mad Mao's secret plan, but no Chinese wants to talk about it?"

    Have you noticed that there's been not a single comment from North Korea or even from its protector - Red China?

    Perhaps something to do with the Great Firewall. :-)))

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    131. MooKlar

    'Freedom' isn't a gift... it's a right - and no individual is entitled to dispense it.

    But I take your point.

    Let's hope that we end up with a peaceful reunification. It's a win-win situation for all concerned. The cruel irony is that the current situation is to no one's benefit.

    Here's hoping.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Perhaps they should collaborate with the Castellers of Catalonia and see if they could launch a satellite by hand.

    It might just work, they've got enough people.


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