SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Wednesday launched a spacecraft carrying its first military reconnaissance satellite designed to monitor South Korean and U.S. militaries, South Korean defense officials said, briefly urging evacuation notices for “false alarmin South Korea and Japan.
The South Korean military indicated hours later that the North Korean launch had been a failuresaying the rocket fell into waters west of South Korea after “an abnormal flight”.
North Korea has admitted that the second stage of its new Chollima-1 rocket malfunctioned, causing it to fall into the sea west of the Korean peninsula.
He stated that he would attempt another launch in the near future after identifying and fixing the problems with the rocket and its fuel.
As the rocket rumbled south, an emergency automated text message told the citizens of Seoul to “prepare to evacuate.” afraid that the remains of the rocket North Korea to fall on the capital of South Korea. The government subsequently withdrew the alert.
For many Seoul residents, the launch of the rocket, which North Korea had announced days earlier, caused less alarm than the panic occurred after the false alarm launched by the South Korean government, sowing confusion and fear in the city.
In Japan, the government has sent notices on Okinawa Prefecture urging residents to seek shelter indoors and away from windows, but the alert was lifted shortly after 7am when the government announced the missile was not flying towards Japan.
Less than 10 minutes later, the MoD announced that a shell had already hit the water.
Wednesday’s launch marked an intensification of the space race in the skies above the Korean peninsula. The United States, Russia, China and Japan already have satellites monitoring the peninsula, one of East Asia’s hotbeds.
South Korea recently joined the fray by promising to put its first military spy satellite into orbit by 2025 and testing a rocket launcher twice since March last year.
When Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, ordered his country to redouble its efforts to expand and diversify its nuclear arsenal during a Workers’ Party meeting in 2021, one of his priorities was to put military spy satellites into orbit.
Spy satellites would make the North’s nuclear arsenal more dangerous by giving its military eyes to the sky, military experts say.
They would also help North Korea gather data from its missile tests as the country struggles to perfect its ICBM technologies.
But experts have also questioned the prototype capability of North’s satellite, which North said would be carried by the rocket launched Wednesday.
The rocket took off from a launch pad in Tongchang-ri in the northwestern tip of North Korea and was intended to fly over the sea between China and the Korean peninsula and waters east of the Philippines.
As the countdown began, South Korea and Japan increased military vigilance in case debris fell on their territories.
Both had urged North Korea to cancel the launch of the satellite, condemning it as a dangerous provocation.
Washington strongly condemned Wednesday’s launch, calling it a flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Adam Hodge, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement that it risks “destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond.”
Under a series of UN Security Council resolutions, North Korea is prohibited from launching space rockets, as well as testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can be used to carry them.
North Korea insists on its right to a peaceful space program, but the United States and its allies have long accused it of using that program as a in front of to test ICBM technologies.
In recent months, Washington and its allies have expanded their joint military exercises to ward off North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats.
They plan to conduct a Proliferation Security Initiative exercise on Wednesday, in which their navies will practice interdiction of ships carrying weapons of materials of mass destruction to and from countries including North Korea.
Last week, the US and South Korean militaries also began the first of a series of live-fire exercises scheduled to run through mid-June near the North Korean border.
The “dangerous military acts of the United States and its vassal forces” force North Korea to provide “a reliable means of reconnaissance and intelligence,” Ri Pyong Chol, vice chairman of the North’s Central Military Commission, said on Monday, unveiling the plan. of the North’s “Military Reconnaissance Satellite No. 1”.
North Korea’s ICBM and space programs are closely intertwined.
In 2012, months after Kim took office, North Korea launched a rocket it said carried a satellite.
In great embarrassment for the young leader, the rocket disintegratedor moments after launch.
But eight months later, another North Korean rocket flew into the Philippines.
The last time North Korea claimed to have launched a satellite was in 2016, when its rocket also flew over the sea near the Philippines.
None of these rockets are believed to have carried a sophisticated satellite. But their launches showed that the North was making progress in building a rocket powerful enough to deliver a satellite or warhead to intercontinental range into orbit.
The country conducted its first ICBM test in 2017.
North Korea has stepped up its space and ICBM programs following Kim’s diplomacy with the president Donald Trump It will fail in 2019.
When it tested the rockets off its east coast in February and March last year, it said it was in preparation for launching a satellite.
But South Korea has accused the North of testing a rocket for its new ICBM hwasong-17.
In November, the North conducted its first successful test of the Hwasong-17.
In December, the country conducted a ground test of a new solid-fuel rocket, a major upgrade to the North’s ICBM program as solid-fuel rockets are faster to launch and harder to intercept.
That same month, North Korea fired rockets that the South called test missiles but the North said were tests of satellite-launching technologies.
In April, North Korea conducted the first flight test of the Hwasong-18, its first solid-fuel ICBM.
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Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.