Seoul (AsiaNews /
Agencies) - The government of North Korea has announced that the much
anticipated launch of the long-range missile has failed, while South and the
United States speak of a "provocation".
In a brief statement, the official KCNA news agency said today that "the earth observation satellite failed to reach orbit." The admission of failure - very rare among the North Koreans - came hours after South Korea and the United States had confirmed that the test of ballistic missile had failed.
The KCNA also said that scientists, engineers and experts are studying the causes of the disaster.
The Unha 3 missile, launched this morning at about 7:39, exploded after one or two minutes, crumbling into about 20 pieces, falling in international waters about 160 miles west of Seoul. The Ministry of Defence of the South has said its military is trying to recover in the fragments. The North has threatened retaliation against anyone who intercepts or collects the remains of the missile.
South Korea condemned the launch as a provocation and a threat to peace and stability in the region, a White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said that "Despite the failure of the attempt to launch the missile, the provocation of North Korea is a threat to regional security, violates international law and contradicts its recent engagements. "
According to the U.S., Japan and South Korea the rocket launch was a test for the launch of long range nuclear missiles which goes against the agreement signed last February between Pyongyang and Washington. It foresaw the end of the nuclear missile tests in return for 240 thousand tons of food from the U.S.. North Korea says the rocket only carried a satellite to study meteorology, and was intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Kim Il Sung on April 15.
To mark the celebration, today the North's parliament was to meet to strengthen the position of the new leader Kim Jong-un, who two days ago was acclaimed "First Secretary" of the Party.
It is not yet clear whether the gathering will still go ahead and what the consequences will be. Meanwhile, today, the North's newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, carries an editorial on Kim Jong-un, "the sun that all the companions, the servants and the people cheered from the depth of the their heartfelt desire."
The failed launch today foresaw a path along the west of the Korean Peninsula and in a stretch of sea between Japan and the Philippines.
China, North Korea's closest ally has not yet made any official statement on the launch. In reporting the news, Xinhua merely quotes foreign agencies. The United States has decided to record the fact as a "provocation" before the UN Security Council.
In 2009 North Korea conducted a test similar to that of today, with the launch of a missile. Then the U.S. and South Korea said that the missile had failed to enter orbit. Pyongyang said that instead the launch was a success.