Seoul slams "provocative" North Korea spy satellite launch

Seoul, South Korea - South Korea on Tuesday slammed Pyongyang's failed attempt to put a second spy satellite in orbit, saying the abortive launch was a "provocative act" that threatened regional stability.

People in Seoul, South Korea, walk past a television showing a news report on North Korea's "Malligyong-1-1" reconnaissance satellite, which exploded minutes after launch due to a suspected engine problem.
People in Seoul, South Korea, walk past a television showing a news report on North Korea's "Malligyong-1-1" reconnaissance satellite, which exploded minutes after launch due to a suspected engine problem.  © ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP

North Korea said late Monday that the rocket carrying its "Malligyong-1-1" reconnaissance satellite exploded minutes after launch due to a suspected engine problem.

Pyongyang claimed to have put a spy satellite in orbit – long a top priority of Kim Jong Un's regime – in November after two failed attempts earlier that year.

Japanese broadcaster NHK on Tuesday ran dramatic footage showing what appeared to be a flaming projectile in the night sky that then exploded into a fireball, saying it had been filmed from northeast China at the time of the attempted launch.

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South Korea's National Security Office said the launch was "a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions – regardless of outcome – and a provocative act."

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South Korea slammed Pyongyang's failed attempt to put a second spy satellite in orbit, saying the abortive launch was a "provocative act" that threatened regional stability.
South Korea slammed Pyongyang's failed attempt to put a second spy satellite in orbit, saying the abortive launch was a "provocative act" that threatened regional stability.  © ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP

North Korea claims the "Malligyong-1" satellite put in orbit in November is successfully functioning, though Seoul's intelligence agency has cast down on the claim.

Seoul claims Kim received Russian technical assistance for that successful launch in return for sending containers of weapons to Moscow for use in Ukraine.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported this weekend that a group of Russian engineers have entered the North to help with the satellite launch, citing a government official.

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North Korea's National Aerospace Technology Administration said in a statement that Monday's launch failed due to "the operational reliability of the newly developed liquid oxygen and oil engine."

But the latest setback will not deter Pyongyang from trying again, Hong Min, a senior analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, told AFP.

"Failures of satellite launches are something all nations developing space technology have in common, which the North has made public in detail and in a timely manner," he said.

With data gained from the latest launch, "Moscow's technical assistance to Pyongyang will accelerate further to raise the chance of success for the next try."

Cover photo: ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP

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