NORAD Confirms North Korean Launch Failed
The U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, confirmed in a statement that North Korea's attempted launch of a satellite -- or missile -- failed on April 12, 2012 Eastern Daylight Time (April 13 local time in North Korea).
NORAD said that the launch took place at 6:39 pm EDT and was tracked 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. 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."
NBC news reported that the rocket broke apart 90 seconds after launch.
This was North Korea's third attempt, and third failure, to launch a satellite into orbit. On the first two occasions, North Korean media sources told its isolated populace that the launch succeeded. In this case, North Korea invited in foreign journalists prior to the launch, but apparently they were not told that the launch had taken place. Many reports from western news sources soon after the launch quoted U.S. officials as saying the launch failed. The launch was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.
Western analysts had expressed skepticism about the chances of a successful launch in recent days.
North Korea proceeded with the launch despite strong objections from the United States and other countries. The United States and North Korea signed an agreement on February 29, 2012 in which the United States would provide food aid as long as North Korea adhered to international obligations, including not using ballistic missile technology. The launch today violated that agreement and two United Nations Security Council resolutions. Several news sources cited a White House statement, which is not yet on the White House website, saying that even though the launch failed, the act "threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments."
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