North Korea launches ‘satellite carrier rocket’ with warning before ‘falling into sea’

North Korea announced Wednesday morning that it had launched a rocket carrying a military surveillance satellite, but it “fell into the sea,” state agency KCNA reported. Pyongyang cited a technical incident. “The new Cheollima-1 satellite carrier rocket crashed into the West Sea,” the Korean name for the Yellow Sea, KCNA said.

The news agency added that the projectile “lost speed due to an abnormal start of the two-stage motor”. The administration said it will “thoroughly investigate the serious deficiencies revealed during the launch of the satellite, take urgent scientific and technological measures to overcome them, and carry out a second launch as soon as possible while conducting various area tests,” KCNA continued.

A White House statement said the US “strongly condemns” the rocket launch, which “raised tensions”. Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the National Security Council, assessed that the launch, which uses “ballistic missile technology,” “risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond.”

Yonhap reported that the South Korean military had earlier announced that a “space missile vehicle” had been fired and was investigating whether it exploded in flight or crashed, adding that the device quickly disappeared from radar. “The (North Korean) missile disappeared from radar before reaching its intended landing site,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Canceled alerts

The shooting incident initially caused confusion in South Korea and Japan. South Korean authorities finally canceled the warning issued by the city of Seoul, which sounded sirens and sent a “vital emergency” message to all mobile phones, telling them to put “children and the elderly first” and prepare to evacuate. “We inform you that the alert was issued by the Seoul Metropolitan Government at 6:41 am. [23h41 en Suisse] “Initiated by mistake,” South Korea’s interior ministry said.

“Missile launch. Missile launch. North Korea seems to have launched a missile. Please take shelter inside buildings or underground,” the Japanese prime minister’s office tweeted a warning to residents of the Okinawa archipelago and broadcast by national channel NHK. However, the Japanese government canceled the warning 30 minutes later, deeming all danger averted. “North Korea launched what appeared to be a ballistic missile. (…) No damage was done at this time. We are investigating other information,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters when he arrived at his office in Tokyo.

North Korea announced on Tuesday that it would launch a “military spy satellite” to “counter the dangerous military activities of the United States and its proxies,” which Japan, for its part, hopes will act as a disguised ballistic missile launcher. The Japanese Ministry of Defense ordered any missile to be shot down if it was confirmed to fall on land or sea, and deployed SM-3 and Patriot PAC-3 interceptor missiles for this purpose.

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