North Korea Acknowledges Rocket Launch Failure

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PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) — North Korea state media has acknowledged that the long-range test rocket that the country launched in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and an agreement with the United States failed to enter orbit.

The 90-ton rocket launched at 6:39 p.m. EDT Thursday, but 81 seconds into the launch, the U.S. detected a substantially larger than expected flare and by 10 minutes after launch, the rocket was no longer on several radar screens, U.S. officials said.

The statement acknowledging the failure came Friday from North Korean state media after U.S. and South Korean officials reported the failure.

According to a statement from U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the missile was tracked on a southerly launch over the Yellow Sea.

“Initial indications are that the first stage of the missile fell into the sea 165 km west of Seoul, South Korea,” the statement said.  “The remaining stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land.  At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that despite the failed launch, “North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments.”

He added “any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community.  The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security our allies in the region.”

President Obama has been prepared to “engage constructively with North Korea,” Carney said in the statement.  “However, he has also insisted that North Korea live up to its own commitments, adhere to its international obligations and deal peacefully with its neighbors.”

Had the launch been successful, the rocket’s third stage was expected to burn up in the atmosphere about 10 minutes after launch, with debris falling north of Australia.

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