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North Korean Rocket Said to Fail After Launch

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
April 12, 2012

North Korea fired a long-range rocket, which broke into pieces without any threat to land, a U.S. official tells NPR.

The launch of the three-stage rocket mounted with a satellite was part of the centenary celebrations to honor the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung. It defied international warnings against a launch widely seen as a provocation.

Japanese officials said debris from the rocket fell into the ocean.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters in a nationally televised news conference that the rocket was fired at 7:39 a.m. local time. He provided no further details, declining to say how South Korea confirmed the launch in the west coast hamlet of Tongchang-ri.

There was no word in Pyongyang about the launch, its third attempt to send a satellite into space since 1998.

“A missile like this could eventually be equipped with a nuclear warhead,” NPR’s Tom Gjelten reports, “and that, of course, would be a dramatic and very worrisome development because this missile, theoretically … could reach the United States.”

The trajectory for this launch would have sent the missile to the south of the Philippines.

However, there’s no evidence North Korea could put a warhead on the missile, and the apparent failure of Friday morning’s launch, Gjelten says, “would suggest that North Korea is not near that capability yet.”

The U.N. Security Council plans to discuss the issue Friday.

NPR’s Tom Bowman, Tom Gjelten and Louisa Lim contributed to this report, which contains material from The Associated Press [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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