Entries in Launch (5)


North Korea Launches Three Short-Range Guided Missiles

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The South Korean Defense Ministry says that North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into waters off its east coast on Saturday, raising concerns about the potential for more military provocation in the region.

Two KN-02 missiles were fired in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon, spokesman Min-seok Kim said.

Unlike the mid-range Musudan missiles which are believed to be capable of traveling more than 1,800 miles, within reach of Japan and South Korea, the missiles launched Saturday only have a range of 75 miles.

Kyodo News, citing an unnamed Japanese official, said the missiles never reached Japanese waters.

North Korea routinely tests short-range missiles, but the launches Saturday came amid signs that diplomacy may finally be cooling tempers on the Korean Peninsula after weeks of warlike threats from Pyongyang.

This past week, Glyn Davies, the State Department's senior envoy on North Korea, traveled to Beijing, South Korea, and Japan, to discuss all aspects of the North Korea issue. That trip was preceded by a surprise visit to Pyongyang by one of Japan's most experienced diplomats on North Korea, Isao Iijima.

During his four day trip, Iijima, an adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with senior officials, including North Korea's No. 2 leader Kim Yong Nam.

Abe has largely remained mum about the secret visit, aimed at restarting talks to bring home Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s, a key hurdle in normalizing bilateral ties.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated to its worst in decades earlier this year, after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February.

Angered by UN sanctions, and joint US-South Korean military drills, Pyongyang threatened nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington, and unilaterally pulled out of the 60-year-old war armistice that ended the Korean War.

In April, North Korea suspended operations at the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex, pulling out 53,000 workers.

US officials said North Korea withdrew two of their Musudan missiles earlier this month, but Pyongyang renewed threats of a nuclear war last week, following the arrival of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

The ship was brought in to the southern port city of Busan for joint US-South Korea naval drills.

North Korea's state TV called the move an "extremely reckless" provocation, saying "The risk of a nuclear war in the peninsula has risen further due to the madcap nuclear war practice by the US and the South's enemy force."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


North Korea Readying for Another Rocket Launch?

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images (file photo)(TOKYO) -- North Korea could be weeks away from its fifth satellite launch.  That's according to a new image captured by American satellite operator Digital Globe.

The photo at North Korea's missile launch site shows increased activity, including new tents, trucks and fuel oxidizer tanks.

Digital Globe says all the activity is similar to what they saw leading up to Pyongyang's failed launch in April of this year.

Analysts say North Korea could be ready to test yet another long-range missile within three weeks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


North Korea Acknowledges Rocket Launch Failure

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- North Korea state media has acknowledged that the long-range test rocket that the country launched in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and an agreement with the United States failed to enter orbit.

The 90-ton rocket launched at 6:39 p.m. EDT Thursday, but 81 seconds into the launch, the U.S. detected a substantially larger than expected flare and by 10 minutes after launch, the rocket was no longer on several radar screens, U.S. officials said.

The statement acknowledging the failure came Friday from North Korean state media after U.S. and South Korean officials reported the failure.

According to a statement from U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the missile was tracked on a southerly launch over the Yellow Sea.

"Initial indications are that the first stage of the missile fell into the sea 165 km west of Seoul, South Korea," the statement said.  "The remaining stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land.  At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that despite the failed launch, "North Korea's provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments."

He added "any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community.  The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security our allies in the region."

President Obama has been prepared to "engage constructively with North Korea," Carney said in the statement.  "However, he has also insisted that North Korea live up to its own commitments, adhere to its international obligations and deal peacefully with its neighbors."

Had the launch been successful, the rocket's third stage was expected to burn up in the atmosphere about 10 minutes after launch, with debris falling north of Australia.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Facing Criticism over Response to North Korean Missile Launch

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- The Japanese government is facing heavy criticism over its slow response to the failed North Korean rocket launch.

While the country displayed a massive show of force in the lead-up to the planned launch, dispatching Pac-3 missile batteries and Aegis-equipped ships in Tokyo and Okinawa, it took nearly 40 minutes for leaders to officially confirm the launch on Friday, much longer than neighboring South Korea.  The J-alert emergency warning system, intended to inform the public minutes after liftoff, was never activated.

News of Pyongyang’s rocket was sent to local authorities over the Em-Net emergency information system, nearly an hour after it occurred.

At a press conference Friday, top spokesman Osamu Fujimura said the government verified the launch at 7:40 a.m., moments after the rocket took off, through the U.S. early warning satellite system.  But Japanese officials didn’t relay news to the public right away, because it wanted to “double check” with other sources.

A message sent out over the Em-Net system nearly 20 minutes later said the government had not confirmed the launch.

“We didn’t want to put out false information,” Fujimura told reporters.  “We were trying to confirm through other channels.”

While public acknowledgement of the launch was delayed, Fujimura said the Defense Ministry alerted Japanese self-defense forces.  The ballistic missile defense shields were readied but never activated.

Officials determined there would be “no impact to Japan” one minute after takeoff, Fujimura said.

Past embarrassment may have caused Japan to act more cautiously this time around.  In 2009, the government was forced to apologize after sounding two false alarms in the lead-up to another North Korean rocket launch.

Acting on a Pyongyang announcement that a rocket launch was “imminent,” officials prematurely sent out reports saying North Korea had fired the rocket.  The news was broadcast nationally on TV, while local officials activated their emergency responses.

Then Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada publicly apologized after retracting the announcements.

Fujimura said the government’s response, this time, generally went as planned.  But he acknowledged the need to review the information sent out over its emergency system.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


North Korean Rocket Launch Fails, US Officials Confirm

North Korean technicians check the Unha-3 rocket at Tangachai -ri space center on April 8, 2012. PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images(SINGAPORE) -- North Korea's anticipated missile launch failed Thursday after it fired the long-range test rocket, defying U.N. Security Council resolutions and an agreement with the United States.

The 90-ton rocket launched and there was a larger than anticipated flare.

U.S. officials said that the missile is believed to have crashed into the sea.

It was launched from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the northern part of the country, near its border with China.

It was expected to travel south by southwest, passing by South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. Splash down was expected to take place in the waters off the coast of Australia.

The Communist nation had announced a five-day window for launching the satellite, which began on Thursday.

The show of muscle put the region on edge, but Donald Gregg, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1989-1993 and an ABC News consultant, said he believed it was new leader Kim Jong Un's way of asserting his power.

"The main audience for this missile is internal not external," Gregg said. "This is [Kim Jong Un's] way of demonstrating to the people of North Korea he is in charge and his country is capable of high tech things. It is a manifestation of his power."

North Korea claimed earlier that the planned rocket launch was just a satellite called Shining Star, which was being launched into orbit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the regime's founder, Kim Il Sung.

Experts did not doubt the possibility of a satellite being attached to the rocket, but felt the satellite was a cover to test a long-range missile.

The rocket launch defies two United Nations Security Council resolutions that prohibit North Korea from testing ballistics missiles. It also breaks a promise North Korean leaders made to U.S. leaders in Beijing at the end of February.

The regime had promised to suspend nuclear missile tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches in exchange for food aid from the United States.

On Tuesday, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said the launch of a rocket would hinder the promised aid.

The rocket launch is the first under Kim Jong Un. The regime's leader, who is believed to be 29 years old, assumed party leadership in January of this year, weeks after the death of his father.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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