North Korean launch briefly puts Japan and South Korea on alert

A brief moment of tension and concern swept through parts of Asia-Pacific. North Korea launched a rocket on Wednesday, May 31 in the morning – triggering alerts in Seoul and in the Japanese archipelago of Okinawa – but later admitted the failure of the launch.

“The new Cheollima-1 satellite carrier rocket crashed into the West Sea”the Korean name for the Yellow Sea, the state agency KCNA said, explaining that the projectile had “lost momentum due to abnormal two-stage engine start”.

According to the version of the South Korean General Staff, Pyongyang fired “what she calls a space launch vehicle” to the south. “The projectile [nord-coréen] disappeared from radar before reaching its expected drop point”said, a little later, the South Korean army, quoted by the news agency Yonhap.

Prior to that, the North Korean launch had caused some confusion. “Missile launch. Missile launch. North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please take shelter inside buildings or underground”had, alerted, on Twitter the office of the Japanese Prime Minister for the inhabitants of Okinawa, a message relayed by the national channel NHK.

The government canceled its alert thirty minutes later, considering all danger averted. “It is expected that the missile mentioned earlier will not arrive in Japan. The call to evacuate has been lifted.he said on Twitter.

“North Korea launched what appears to be a ballistic missile (…) No damage has been reported at this time. We are analyzing further information.”Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters as he arrived at his office in Tokyo.

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spy satellite

South Korea also canceled an alert issued by the city of Seoul, which sounded sirens and sent a critical emergency message to all mobile phones asking residents to prepare to evacuate by passing “children and the elderly first”.

“We inform you that the alert issued by the Seoul Metropolitan authorities at 6:41 a.m. was incorrectly issued”, said the South Korean Interior Ministry. According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff quoted by Yonhap, the projectile flew over the Yellow Sea without affecting the Seoul metropolitan area.

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North Korea announced on Tuesday that it would launch a spy satellite to “to deal with the dangerous military actions of the United States and its vassals”, Japan believing for its part that it was going to be a disguised ballistic missile launch. The Japanese Ministry of Defense had ordered the downing of any missile whose fall on its land or sea territory was confirmed, and had deployed interceptor missiles for this purpose.

Read also: North Korea confirms the launch of a military spy satellite

Pyongyang had said the launch would take place between May 31 and June 11. Criticizing recent maneuvers between Washington and Seoul, a senior North Korean official said on Tuesday that his country felt “the need to develop its means of reconnaissance and information as well as to improve various defensive and offensive weapons”.

Concealed trial

Tokyo and Seoul had strongly criticized the announcement of the launch, saying it would violate United Nations (UN) sanctions against North Korea, including banning it from using ballistic missiles.

“If North Korea does proceed with this launch, it will have to pay the price and bear the pain it deserves”had launched the South Korean foreign ministry.

Analysts say sending a satellite into orbit may allow Pyongyang to conduct a covert intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, as long-range missiles and space launchers rely on the same technology.

In 2012 and 2016, North Korea, for example, carried out tests of ballistic missiles by qualifying them as satellite launches. The two projectiles then flew over the Okinawa region.

Read also: In North Korea, Kim Jong-un wants to increase the production of “military nuclear material”

Since an escalation of tensions in 2019 with its neighbor, North Korea has accelerated its military development, in particular by conducting prohibited tests, and has declared itself a military power. “irreversible”. Its leader, Kim Jong-un, called for an increase “exponential” North Korean military arsenal, including tactical nuclear weapons.

The World with AFP

source site-29