Failure to launch – but Pyongyang pays price for rocket test

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

US food-aid deal collapses following claims that North Korea was testing a long-range missile

Seoul

The US announced yesterday that it will not deliver on its promise to provide food aid to North Korea after the failed launch of its long-range rocket, which plunged into the sea just over a minute after take-off late on Thursday.

The US and its allies had accused North Korea of attempting to launch a long-range missile, though North Korea maintains that the rocket had been carrying a satellite intended for weather monitoring.

"Their efforts to launch a missile clearly demonstrates that they could not be trusted to keep their commitments," Ben Rhodes, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said yesterday. "Therefore, we are not going forward with an agreement to provide them with any assistance."

In February, Washington promised 240,000 tons of food packages to North Korea, where an estimated one-third of children are thought to suffer from severe malnutrition, in return for the nation's pledge to cease its nuclear programme.

An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council was convened yesterday in the wake of the failed launch. A brief statement afterwards said members had agreed to continue consultations "on an appropriate response" to the launch "in accordance with its responsibilities given the urgency of the matter".

In an unusual step, North Korea admitted the "failure" of the satellite "to enter preset orbit" yesterday. A woman clad in traditional Korean hanbok dress announced the failure on state TV, saying that "scientists, engineers and experts" were seeking the causes but she did not elaborate.

The announcement came four hours after word had already spread around the world. Angus Walker, China correspondent for ITV News, who was in Pyongyang to cover the rocket launch, tweeted yesterday: "Gone midnight in the press centre set up for the rocket launch in North Korea and no official has spoken to reporters to explain failure".

The failure comes as a huge embarrassment for North Korea during the build-up for large-scale celebrations on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founding "Great Leader" Kim Il-sung.

In the face of the public-relations disaster, focus was swiftly shifted away from the launch to the nation's new leader Kim Jong-un, who took power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, last year. Hours afterwards, he was named First Chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission – the latest in a string of titles apparently designed to help strengthen his position. Foreign journalists were taken to a ceremony for the unveiling of statues of Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il. New "Supreme Commander" Kim Jong-un was at the centre of leaders ranged in front of the statues, facing several thousand cheering people.

It was thought yesterday that North Korea would remain defiant, even as the United Nations Security Council convened.

South Korean Deputy Defence Minister Lim Kwan-bin told parliament that chances are "very high" that North Korea will carry out another provocative move to improve domestic support.

The Unha-3 rocket lifted off at 7.40 local time (22:40 GMT on Thursday) from a specially prepared launch site in Cholsan County, on the country's western coast, according to South Korean and US monitors. It disintegrated after only a couple of minutes.

A South Korean defence official said the rocket had been on a trajectory that would have taken it over or near the southernmost Japanese island prefecture of Okinawa and past the northern Philippines before landing in the South Pacific.

South Korean sources said the rocket fell into the sea about 140 miles west of Kunsan, a major port on the southwest South Korean coast. Two South Korean destroyers equipped with the latest Aegis radar and ship-to-air missile systems were already patrolling the waters, ready to fire at portions of the rocket if it appeared they might land on South Korean territory.

The destroyers, along with smaller craft and helicopters, churned the waters looking for debris from the rocket, believed to have broken up at the critical first stage of separation after launch.

Kim Tae-woo, a defence analyst and president of the Korea Institute for National Unification, said he believes North Korea is committed to developing missiles and nuclear weapons partly to prove the power of Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be under the control of a clique of generals and relatives. The crash has fuelled fears North Korea may conduct its third underground nuclear test in the near future. "What they are concerned about is not to improve the quality of life of their people, but to consolidate behind Kim Jong-un," he said.

The US, South Korea and Japan all denounced the launch as a violation of UN sanctions.

Suggested Topics
News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits