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 215.

    #211 Shane from Croydon
    "Plenty of UK rockets fall into the sea without causing an international song and dance."

    If only!

    The UK has'nt launched a rocket since Black Arrow orbited Prospero in 1971.

    Our 6% contribution to ESA certainly doesnt qualify us as a spacefaring nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    So, the UN deplores N Korea launching a rocket but is comfy with a couple of permanent security council member states waging illegal, unsanctioned wars of aggression overseas? After years of funding both sides of conflict?
    United nations? No. United warmonger's toadies? That's more like it!
    My country? Used to be something I was proud of. Not any more. I'm ashamed. Not in my name. Not any of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    On BBC News tonight a N Korean was shown saying they believed Kim was immortal.
    How can anyone seriously believe that about anyone in this day and age.
    TMR - Mitt Romney wouldn't have a problem with that concept.

    Scary isn't it? The prospect of mad mullahs and mormons in charge of nations.

  • Comment number 212.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Why are we being treated to this story. Countries test rockets all the time. So what if it fell into the sea. Plenty of UK rockets fall into the sea without causing an international song and dance. NK has done nothing to any British interests so I am unsure why this story has any relevance whatsoever. It's noise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    I shiver at mere images of the unveiling ceremony, reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Godwin's law is full effect here but how can you not get that almost frightening image of a dictator in front of thousands cheering in unison, unveiling statues while a fanfare music plays. It's eerily similar and unsettling to say the least. Have we learned nothing from history?

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    #205 AuntieLeft
    "A socialist rocket, starts with a lot of delusional bravado and ends in farcial crash."

    Apart from its tragic consequences, this reminds me of the R101 airship.

    This was built by a Labour government to show the superiority of a state produced vehicle over its private enterprise rival, the R100.

    Guess which one crashed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    it's all the same everywhere, the leaders want to stay in power. And the only idea left is weaponry of all sorts, also nice for getting some spare money from the Military-Industrial-Complex, Hallyburton to build up all anew after a war and the tv is playing jocosely with the strings on them seven dwarfs, to be more precise beergardenimps. Say something different? use a picture book for therm lot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    IDEA . Why not offer to help them launce their satellite, Get your feet under the table and make friends .At least then you would be in a place to see what is going on in real terms .

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Usual HYS lefty comments pointing bitter fingers at the USA.

    I would question why you don't condemn the NK regime for enslaving its people in a repressive nightmare.

    But what's the point? I am sure many of you heartily approve of hard socialist governance.

    NK people are not allowed to have their say. But our REDS are free to praise their heroes.

    Would you swap places with a NK citizen? Yeah...

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    A socialist rocket, starts with a lot of delusional bravado and ends in farcical crash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Hmmm, shouldnt the US and the UN be more concerned with Iran's capabilities ... much closer to home and a potential conflict with Israel at the helm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    "Why don't they realise that by developing nuclear weapons they are just attracting more attention from the West and other countries?"

    Think of it as a poker bluff. They try to appear strong to achieve a deterrent effect on potential attackers.

    Unfortunately it can have the opposite effect. Saddam Hussein tried to bluff that the had WMDs and was invaded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Go to work, pay bills, worry about mortgage, worry about ending up sick and broke, go to pub, watch football, buy cr$p i'm told to buy, admire celebrities. Everything is attitude. North Korea instills an attitude on its society and who are we to judge if thats any worse than our own. We are subject to as many if not more psychological manipulations. Ask the question to yourself 'am i happy?'

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    Lets all laugh at North Korea. If they put all this effort into making friends and building industry they'd be richer. Then they'd be able to afford nice weapons :s Or even better, unify with South Korea and make a better country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    China always 2 faced so what they say to NK is so different from the calm attitude they portray to the rest of the world. NK repeat their threats & show of military prowess in line with US elections. News reports in the west are vague with only half the story. Having just returned from a trip to Asia, the threat is very real and public reaction is not the calm reaction that you read on this board

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    UN 'deplores' North Korea botched rocket launch
    Would they have been more appreciative of a much better launch?

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Actually, let them do all the missile tests they want. Let's use each one as a test subject to perfect our own missile defense systems. When they switch over to underground nuke testing, let us the dispose of a couple of our about to be scrapped NWHs, to help brighten the sky for their celebrations. Perhaps that will convince Kim Jong DUM and his mentor, Dr. Strange, there is a much better way.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 196.

    On BBC News tonight a N Korean was shown saying they believed Kim was immortal. How can anyone seriously believe that about anyone in this day and age. Roman and Chinese emperors may have believed they were gods for propaganda purposes but thought we'd all moved on since those days. A rocket launched by a god would not have failed.


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