North Korea’s second attempt to launch a spy satellite into orbit failed Thursday due to a malfunction in the third-stage of the rocket, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
The unsuccessful launch came after North Korea’s first attempt failed in May, when the new satellite vehicle rocket Chollima-1 crashed into the sea soon after liftoff.
Pyongyang will try another launch in October, KCNA said.
The latest launch at dawn Thursday “failed due to an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight,” the report said.
The rocket broke into multiple parts before falling into the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean in the early hours of Thursday, said Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Kimi Onoda.
After salvaging the debris, the South Korean military said the design of the latest satellite was too rudimentary to fulfill its function, even if it had been launched successfully.
The launch prompted Japan to issue an emergency call for residents of the southern Okinawa region to evacuate. The evacuation call has since been lifted.
Japan said North Korea sent an email Tuesday saying it planned to launch a satellite in the direction of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea between August 24 and 31, in an area that falls outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Following that email, the Japanese Coast Guard issued a navigational warning for this area and called on ships to watch out for falling objects.
The launch has been condemned by Japan, South Korea and the United States.
In a news conference Thursday, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Japan “strongly protests” North Korea’s latest launch and “condemns it in the strongest terms,” adding that the launch used ballistic missile technology.
Matsuno called the launch “a serious matter that violates the United Nations Security Council resolution that prohibits any launches using ballistic missile technology by North Korea.”
He said the Japanese government had called an emergency meeting and is collecting and analyzing details of the launch, which would be shared with the public as soon as it becomes available.
There have been no reports of damage to ships or aircraft so far, Matsuno added.
South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC) also condemned the launch, which it said was a “serious violation of the UN Security Council resolution.”
The NSC deplored North Korea for “driving its people to starvation and death by wasting the few resources they have on reckless provocations.”
In a meeting Thursday morning, the NSC members pledged to strengthen cooperation with the United States and Japan to prevent North Korea’s illegal activities such as exploitation of North Korean workers overseas, cyber hacking, and smuggling at sea.
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol received a report of the NSC discussions and ordered the NSC to share Thursday’s analysis results with the US and Japan, and “prepare for North Korea’s additional provocations,” according to a statement released by the country’s presidential office.
The US National Security Council condemned the launch as a “brazen violation” of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, saying it “raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond.”
“This space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile program,” the council’s spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote in a statement several hours after the launch.
“The President’s national security team is assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners. We urge all countries to condemn this launch and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations.”
The launch comes days after US President Joe Biden met with the leaders of Japan and South Korea at Camp David. During the summit, the three leaders pledged closer cooperation to protect against nuclear threats from North Korea and urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea is expected to celebrate its 75th foundation day on September 9 with a military parade.
Had the launch been successful it would have been a timely boost for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.