BREAKING: North Korea Launches Long-Range Missile — May Have Failed (UPDATED)
After this monumentally embarrassing failure to North Korea and its new, young leader, the big question, in my opinion, is what will North Korea do in response, both in the short term and in the long term.
Will they blame it on “someone else”? Claim that another country shot their rocket down or somehow caused its failure? And, if so, what will be the consequences.
Will they give up their military nuclear ballistic missiles ambitions– will they be ready to negotiate — or will they redouble their efforts at an additional heavy price to their people?
I know there are other possibilities.
What do you think?
“It flew about a minute, and it flew into the ocean,” said Noriyuki Shikata, a spokesman for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. He added that Japanese authorities “have not identified any negative impacts, so far,” though he said the international ramifications could be significant. “This is something that we think is a regrettable development,” he said.
Joseph Cirincione, president of the global security foundation The Ploughshares Fund, told CNN that the launch’s apparent failure “shows the weakness of the North Korea missile program” and suggests that the threat from North Korea has been “exaggerated.”
“It’s a humiliation,” he told CNN. “I wouldn’t want to be a North Korean rocket scientist today.”
NHK Television of Japan, citing an official with the Japanese Defense Ministry, said the rocket broke into four pieces before falling.
And from my old NORAD:
The launch occurred at 7:39 a.m. Friday, NORAD said.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command officials tracked the missile, which they identified as a North Korean Taepo Dong-2 missile.
“Initial indications are that the first stage of the missile fell into the sea 165 km west of Seoul, South Korea,” they said in a news release. “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.”
The incident demonstrates an “unblemished track record of failure,” said a U.S. official, who credited international sanctions for preventing Pyongyang from obtaining needed materials.
South Korea’s Yonhap Television News, quoting a South Korean defense ministry official, said debris appeared to have landed 190 to 210 kilometers off Gunsan’s west coast, near the Yellow Sea.
“This was supposed to be associated with (Kim Jong Un’s) ascension to power. So for this thing to fail … is incredibly embarrassing,” said Victor Cha, former director of Asian affairs for the U.S. National Security Council and now a Georgetown University professor.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the rocket remained in the air for slightly more than a minute and did not affect Japanese territory.
After the failure, the Japanese government held a security meeting.
Immediately afterward, the South Korean military dispatched helicopters and ships in an attempt to find debris related to the rocket launch, according to YTN.
The one country that had no immediate response was North Korea itself. In Pyongyang, state television made no mention of the incident.
Wonder why …
North Korea fired what the U.S. and South Korea believe is a long-range rocket, a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said early Friday.
The rocket was fired at 7:39 a.m., he said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
The U.S. and South Korea determined that the launch was a failure, and that the rocket fell down within minutes, according to the MND spokesman.
U.S. Forces Korea referred all questions to the Pentagon, which had no immediate comment about the launch.
In Pyongyang, AP reported there was no word about a launch, and state television was broadcasting video for popular folk tunes. North Korean officials said they would make an announcement about the launch “soon.”
ABC also reports now that the North Korean missile launch failed:
The 90-ton rocket launched with a larger than anticipated flare. But U.S. officials said that the missile is believed to have crashed into the sea.
According to CNN, the Pentagon reports that the missile fell apart within the atmosphere during the first few minutes of flight.
The New York Times reports:
Defying weeks of international warnings of more censure and even sanctions, North Korea reportedly launched a rocket on Friday, which Washington feared was a cover for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that one day might be able to carry a nuclear warhead.
The three-stage Unha-3 rocket blasted off from the Soehae launching site near North Korea’s western corner with China, said South Korea’s national news agency Yonhap and YTN, an all-news cable channel.
A spokesman at the Joint Chiefs of Staff who insisted on anonymity until the government’s formal announcement said that South Korea believed that the launching indeed took place.
There are reports that the rocket may have broken apart shortly after launch. Stay tuned.
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