A controversial long-range North Korean rocket launch ended in failure, crashing into the Yellow Sea just minutes after launch, it has been confirmed. The Unha-3 rocket was said to have been designed to carry a weather satellite into orbit, but western powers had condemned the launch as a thinly disguised ballistic missile test.
The rocket splintered and crashed into the sea shortly after its launch at 7.38am local time on April 13 having travelled just over 100km. North American Aerospace Defence command tracked the missile on its journey south over the Yellow Sea. "Initial indications are that the first stage of the missile fell into the sea 165 km west of Seoul, South Korea," NORAD said in a statement. "The remaining stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land. At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat."
North Korea's Central News Agency said: "Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure." The controversial launch had already led to the United States cancelling a major food aid programme agreed just weeks before. It is now feared that North Korea's leadership may be preparing a nuclear weapons test in order to restore lost prestige after publicly admitting the failure.
After news of the failed launch spread, the leaders of the G8 nations issued a joint statement calling on North Korea to take "concrete and irreversible steps towards denuclearisation".
Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said: "Today's failed rocket launch is a dramatic symbol of the distance between the North Korean leadership and the real needs of its deprived and starving people. The country must embark on a serious path of economic, political and social reforms and regional reconciliation."This article first appeared on PublicServiceEurope.com's sister site defencemanagement.com North Korean rocket crashes into sea