13 April 2012

Rocket Fails


North Korea’s much-anticipated rocket launch ended quickly in an embarrassing failure Friday, splintering into pieces over the Yellow Sea soon after takeoff.
Within minutes of the early morning launch, the US and South Korea declared it a failure. North Korea acknowledged that hours later in an announcement broadcast on state TV, saying its satellite hadn’t entered into orbit.
World leaders were swift to denounce the launch, calling it a covert test of missile technology and a flagrant violation of international resolutions prohibiting North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile programs.
The leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations meeting in Washington, including Russia, condemned the launch. The UN Security Council, meanwhile, scheduled an emergency meeting for later Friday, and Washington said it was suspending plans to contribute food aid to the North in exchange for a rollback of its nuclear programs.

North Korea had announced weeks earlier that scientists would launch a long-range rocket mounted with an observational satellite, touting it as a major technological achievement to mark the 100th anniversary Sunday of the birth of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung.
The United States, Russia, Japan and others had urged North Korea to call off the launch. Experts say the Unha-3 carrier is the same type of rocket that would be used to strike the US and other targets with a long-range missile.
North Korea has tested two atomic devices but is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.
Space officials in Pyongyang refused to back down, telling reporters earlier in the week that it is North Korea’s “sovereign right” to develop its space program.
State media said the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was fired from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri along the west coast at 7:38 a.m. Friday.
North Korean space officials said the Unha-3, or Galaxy-3, rocket was meant to send a satellite into orbit to study crops and weather patterns – its third bid to launch a satellite since 1998.
North Korea had staked its pride on the satellite, seeing it as a show of strength amid persistent economic hardship while Kim Il Sung’s young grandson, Kim Jong Un, solidifies power following the death of his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, four months ago.
In the Philippines, disaster management officials lifted yesterday the no-fly and no-sail ban in parts of Eastern Luzon minutes after confirming that the rocket crashed in the waters west of the Korean peninsula.
Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), announced the lifting of the ban after receiving a text message from Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirming that the rocket had crashed.
The message came from the US Naval Attache.
“We confirm that the North Korea rocket launch has failed to complete its intended flight and fallen off the West Korea. This location is far from the Philippines,” Ramos told reporters in press briefing at the NDRRMC headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Quoting US military intelligence report, Ramos said the rocket fell some 200 kilometers from the Yeon Peon Do, an island near the Korean demilitarized zone.
Ramos said he felt vindicated from criticisms that he overreacted in the preparing for the rocket’s launch.
Malacanang yesterday expressed relief over the failed rocket.
“We are happy that no harm came out of the failed launch,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
She urged North Korea to be one with the international community in protecting the environment and to be a considerate neighbor.
“We remind North Korea that we all share this planet, and urge it to be a better neighbor,” she said.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Pyongyang should “reconsider its current path of isolation from the international community.”
“The Philippines strongly urges the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) to desist from acts of provocation and to end its use or testing of ballistic missile technology,” the DFA said.
ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan encouraged North Korea to heed the concerns of International Community about the planned satellite launch.
Catholic Church leaders rejoiced yesterday following the report that North Korea’s rocket was destroyed minutes after it was launched.
“I am happy. Our prayers to the Lord are heard!” Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said in an interview.
“I pity the NoKor people because their leaders wasted millions of dollars for a failed project while millions are hungry,” said Bastes.
“Money should be spent to feed the people,” Marbel (South Cotabato) Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said.
For children in Sta. Ana, a coastal village in Cagayan, the rocket is the subject of lively debate.
They agree that it is that something is about to fall from the sky, maybe straight into the water. The television told them so.
“The missile is going to fall into the Pacific Ocean, so I’m not afraid,” a boy about 10 years old volunteered.
“Japan will shoot it down,” said another lad confidently.
Maryo Pagod, who was slightly older than the rest at age 12, interjected: “It will fall to place far away from here. So there is no need to be afraid.” (Additional reports from Aaron Recuenco, Roy Mabasa, Leslie Ann G. Aquino And Ellson Quismorio)

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