An attempted North Korean space launch on Wednesday morning ended in failure after it briefly triggered evacuation warnings in parts of South Korea and Japan.

Both the Chollima-1 rocket and its payload — claimed by Pyongyang to be a military satellite — crashed into the ocean, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency reported.

Japan’s coast guard said that North Korea informed it of a plan to launch a military satellite between May 31 and June 11. 

The launch initially prompted authorities in parts of South Korea and Japan to issue evacuation alerts. But shortly afterwards, Seoul said the warnings had been “incorrectly issued” while authorities in Japan also lifted their alert, stating the rocket was no longer expected to fly over Okinawa.

In a rare admission of technical failure, KCNA later reported that the rocket crashed into the ocean “after losing thrust due to the abnormal starting of the second-stage engine.”

South Korea’s military salvaged presumed debris from the rocket in waters off Eocheongdo island.

What did North Korea say before the launch?

Before the launch, North Korea said its “military reconnaissance satellite No. 1” would be “indispensable [for] tracking, monitoring ... and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts of the U.S. and its vassal forces.”

Ri Pyong Chol, a top adviser to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said in a statement on Tuesday that Pyongyang felt “the need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons.”

Recent satellite imagery showed active constriction activity at North Korea’s main rocket launch center in the northwest of the country.

In his statement on Tuesday, Ri said the North planned to test “various reconnaissance means.”

After it was confirmed that the rocket had crashed, Pyongyang announced an investigation and said it would consider launching a second spy satellite before June 11.

US, South Korea, and Japan react

In the aftermath of the incident, officials from the United States, Japan, South Korea held a phone call where they “strongly condemned” the launch. 

“The three countries will stay vigilant with high sense of urgency,” Japan’s Foreign Ministry said said in a statement.

White House national security spokesperson Adam Hodge said that the claimed space launch involved technologies that are “directly related" to North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile program.

“The door has not closed on diplomacy but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also “strongly” condemned the launch.

Launch breaches Security Council resolutions

Resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council ban North Korea from using ballistic technology, including for space launches, because it is regarded as a cover for missile tests.

The U.S. State Department condemned the planned launch on these grounds.

“Space launch vehicles (SLVs) incorporate technologies that are identical to, and interchangeable with, those used in ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles,” a State Department spokesperson said.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry also said earlier this week that the launch would be a “serious violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

It said North Korea “will have to bear the price and pain it deserves.”

zc/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters)

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. Read the original article here.

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