How N.Korea Fooled the World About Rocket Launch

      December 13, 2012 11:09

      South Korea, the U.S. and Japan were apparently taken wholly by surprise when North Korea launched a rocket on Wednesday. The three countries had concluded only on Tuesday that there was no chance that the launch would take place this week or even this month.

      Only a few days earlier, North Korea announced that a technical glitch had been detected and the launch window would have to be extended until Dec. 29

      Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told lawmakers he did not know that the launch would go ahead. Military officials here detected activity at the launch site on Tuesday afternoon and reported it to Cheong Wa Dae, but apparently failed to identify signs of an imminent launch.

      Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan (right) meets with U.S. ambassador to Korea Sung Kim (center) and U.S. Forces Korea chief Gen. James Thurman at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday, right after North Korea's rocket launch. /Newsis

      Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto said Tokyo confirmed that North Korea removed the rocket from its launch pad on Tuesday and had started to disassemble it for repairs.

      South Korea and Japan had apparently reached the conclusion based on photos taken by U.S. spy satellites.

      "Military authorities may have been careless in preparing for a North Korean launch by simply trusting the North Korean announcement," said one retired general here.

      "We were fooled by North Korea because of weaknesses in intelligence gathering and faulty judgment," he added.

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