North Korea Long-Range Rocket Fails After Launch
The missile took off around 7:39 a.m. local time. Shortly after the launch, the South Korea military sent out helicopters and ships to search for any debris caused by the rocket. The Japanese government said the missile disintegrated into pieces while still in North Korean territory or over South Korean waters, according to The New York Times.
A senior Obama administration official said the United States would follow through on its pledge to cut off food aid to North Korea as punishment for the launching.
"This launch will give credence to the view that North Korean leaders see improved relations with the outside world as a threat to the existence of their system," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week.
The West and neighbors of the most isolated nation on earth said they suspected the action was a precursor to a nuclear test. The rocket’s projected trajectory placed South Korea, Japan and the Philippines on heightened alert in case the launching could potentially endanger citizens and property in those nations, according to the Times.
The North had said that the launch was part of a national celebration honoring the 100-year anniversary of late founding father Kim Il-sung’s birth, MSNBC reported.
The act was seen as a statement of defiance from North Korea’s young new leader Kim Jong-un, reflecting his aspiration to follow the same path as his father, Kim Jong-il, and grandfather, Kim Il-sung, according to the Times.
But some observers saw the failed launch of the Unha-3 rocket as a humiliating setback.
"This was supposed to be associated with (Kim Jong-un's) ascension to power. So for this thing to fail ... is incredibly embarrassing," said Victor Cha, former director of Asian affairs for the U.S. National Security Council.