North Korea space launch fails after rocket crashes into sea
Authorities in Japan and South Korea lifted evacuation warnings not long after the launch
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 rokcet and its payload — claimed by Pyongyang to be a military recosatellite — 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 evacuation warnings had been "incorrectly issued" while authorities in Japan also lifted its 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?
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 US 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."
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 US 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 was a "serious violation of UN Security Council resolutions."
It said North Korea "will have to bear the price and pain it deserves."