13 Apr 2012

North Korea admits rocket launch failed

10:16 pm on 13 April 2012

North Korea has acknowledged its much-hyped long-range rocket has failed to deliver a satellite into orbit.

The rocket - seen by many as a banned test of long-range missile technology - was launched from north-west North Korea at 7.39am local time on Friday.

The United States, Japan and South Korea say it flew only for a short time before breaking up into about 20 pieces and crashing into waters off the Korean peninsula, the BBC reports.

North Korea said its scientists were assessing what had caused the failure.

The country says the aim of the rocket was to launch a satellite into orbit - a move marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung.

But the US and other nations say the launch constituted a disguised test of long-range missile technology banned under United Nations resolutions.

Japan and South Korea previously warned that they would shoot the rocket down if it entered their territory. Its intended flight path would have taken it south, to the west of the Korean peninsula between Japan and the Philippines.

It is believed to be the third time that North Korea has unsuccessfully tried to launch a rocket.

Launch criticised

The United States says although the launch has been a failure, it is still a provocative act.

Russia has criticised North Korea for the launch, saying Pyongyang had defied the United Nations Security Council and that neighbouring powers all opposed it.

Russia had warned Pyongyang that any launch would complicate efforts to revive six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear programme, Reuters reports.

The Interfax news agency quoted Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying Russia, China, the US, South Korea and Japan were united in their view on the missile launch.

However, Russia said it opposes new sanctions against Pyongyang and joined China in calling for calm and restraint from neighbouring nations on the Korean peninsula.

The United Nations Security Council is due to meet later on Friday to discuss the launch.

In February this year, North Korea agreed to a partial freeze in nuclear activities and a missile test moratorium in return for food from the US, but the deal was put on hold in March after the rocket launch plans were announced.