North Korea announced Thursday that its second attempt in three months to put a spy satellite into orbit had failed, and promised to try again in October.
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North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration “conducted the second launch of the Malligyong-1 reconnaissance satellite aboard the new-type carrier rocket Chollima-1 at the Sohae satellite launch site in the county. of Cholsan in North Phyongan province at dawn on August 24,” the official KCNA news agency reported.
“Phases one and two of the rocket’s flight were normal, but the launch failed due to an error in the emergency firing system during the third phase of flight,” according to KCNA.
According to the agency, “the cause of the accident in question is not a major problem”, and Pyongyang will carry out a third launch in October after taking corrective measures.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida first announced on X (ex-Twitter) that Pyongyang had fired “a suspected ballistic missile”, which had entered Japanese airspace near the Okinawa archipelago.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, quoted by the South Korean agency Yonhap, said afterwards that Pyongyang had fired “what the North claims was a space launch vehicle”.
The craft was launched in a southerly direction and “crossed international airspace” over the Yellow Sea, he said.
“Our army remains on high alert in coordination with the United States, while strengthening our level of security,” added the South Korean joint staff.
On Tuesday, Pyongyang had told Japan that the launch would take place between August 24 and 31, prompting Tokyo to mobilize ships and put its PAC-3 missile defense system on alert.
Seoul has called such a launch ‘illegal’ as it violates UN sanctions barring North Korea from testing using ballistic technology, which is used for both space and missile launches .
The shooting came days after US, South Korean and Japanese leaders held a summit in the United States, with North Korea’s nuclear threats on the agenda.
According to Washington, this launch would violate UN Security Council resolutions.
“We urge North Korea to refrain from further illegal activity and call on Pyongyang to engage in serious and sustained diplomatic engagement,” a State Department spokesperson said.
On May 31, North Korea attempted to launch what it described as its first military reconnaissance satellite, but the rocket carrying it crashed into the Yellow Sea minutes after takeoff.
The South Korean army, after a complex 36-day operation at sea, had finally recovered parts of the rocket and the satellite. After examination by South Korean and American experts, the South Korean Ministry of Defense had estimated that the satellite had “no military utility”.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of a military spy satellite a priority to “address the dangerous military actions of the United States and its vassals”.
Washington and Seoul suspect for their part Pyongyang of developing a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which includes technologies similar to that of a satellite launcher.
This new launch by Pyongyang coincides with Ulchi Freedom Shield, the name given to the large-scale US-South Korean maneuvers which began on Monday and are due to run until August 31.
According to the three allies, these exercises aim to respond to the growing threats from North Korea, which has nuclear weapons.