May 31, 2023 10:57
North Korea fired a space rocket Wednesday just days after it announced plans to launch a military spy satellite, setting off sirens and evacuation warnings in Seoul and Okinawa.
The rocket was fired southward from Tongchang-ri, North Pyeongan Province at around 6:30 a.m and fell into the West Sea some 200 km off the South's Eocheong Island, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
North Korea was quick to admit the failure, saying that the rocket carrying a military spy satellite crashed into the West Sea due to an engine problem. But it vowed to try again as soon as possible.
North Korea earlier announced it would launch its first military reconnaissance satellite between May 31 and June 11.
The launch set off sirens in Seoul and prompted an evacuation warning to be broadcast, though the military here later said it was sent in error. In Okinawa, locals were briefly warned to evacuate since the rocket was feared to be headed for Japanese airspace.
South Korea and Japan had been preparing to shoot the space rocket down if it violated their airspace.
In a statement carried by the [North] Korean Central News Agency, Ri Pyong-chol, the second-highest officer in the North Korean Army said the spy satellite and other devices that will be tested at the same time are "indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and dealing in advance in real time with the military acts" of the U.S. and South Korea.
He defended the move by citing the deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine in South Korea, massive joint South Korea-U.S. drills, and South Korea-led multinational maritime interdiction operations.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com