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North Korea says rocket carrying satellite exploded in flight | News

Pyongyang says its attempt to put another spy satellite into orbit ends in failure, according to state news agency KCNA.

North Korea says its attempt to launch a rocket with a spy satellite on board has failed after South Korea’s military reported the launch of an “unidentified projectile”.

North Korea said its attempt on Monday to put a spy satellite into orbit ended in a mid-air explosion, state media reported.

“The launch of the new satellite carrier rocket failed when it exploded in mid-air during the flight of the first stage,” the deputy director general of North Korea’s National Aerospace Technology Administration said in a report carried by state media.

An intial analysis suggested that the cause was a newly developed liquid fuel rocket motor, but other possible causes were being investigated, the report said.

Officials in South Korea and Japan had earlier reported that the launch seemed to have failed.

Earlier on Monday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea  fired an “unidentified projectile southwards” over the Yellow Sea.

Several minutes after the launch, it said many fragments were spotted in the sea. It said South Korean and United States intelligence authorities were analysing whether the launch was successful.

The projectile launched from North Korea disappeared from radar, and the launch appeared to have failed, a Japanese government official told the broadcaster NHK.

A senior Japanese Ministry of Defence official told reporters, “The missile did not fly into the area that had been announced, and the situation is not as North Korea had intended. We are still analysing whether it is a satellite or not,” Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan had issued an emergency alert ordering evacuations in the southern Okinawa prefecture before lifting the warning and saying the rocket was not expected to fly over Japanese territory.

Earlier on Monday, North Korea said it planned to launch a satellite between Monday and June 4.

Nuclear-armed North Korea successfully launched its first spy satellite in November, drawing international condemnation.

The US called the launch a “brazen violation” of UN sanctions, two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia and promised technical assistance to the isolated country.

Kim said at the end of last year that Pyongyang would launch three more military spy satellites in 2024 as he continues a military modernisation programme that saw a record number of weapons tests in 2023.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said another satellite launch – North Korea’s fourth attempt – would “undermine regional and global peace and stability”.

The South Korean military conducted attack formation flight and strike training on Monday to demonstrate “the strong capabilities and will of our military” after North Korea notified Japan of plans to launch a satellite by June 4.

Experts said spy satellites could improve Pyongyang’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over fierce rival South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict.

Seoul has said the North received technical help from Russia for its November satellite launch in return for sending Moscow weapons for use in its war in Ukraine.

A group of Russian engineers entered North Korea to help with the launch preparations, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, quoting a government official.

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