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North Korea attempted to launch a ballistic missile, from a site seen here, this morning. The launch failed, raining debris on the Sea of Japan. North Korea insists the launch was legal, but President Obama condemned the launch, saying it is in violation of international laws.  (Source: Digital Globe/ISIS)

North Korea claimed the missile's payload reached orbit, but it was caught in a lie by U.S. intelligence. The satellite, which was to broadcast anthems praising North Korea's dictator, crashed to Earth when second stage separation failed.  (Source: QuiNews)
North Korea claims satellite reached orbit, U.S. intelligence states otherwise

North Korea recently announced that it was pursuing a "peaceful" space launch, which it claims was within its rights under international law.  However, officials in the U.S. and South Korea believed that North Korea had far more sinister intentions -- testing its Taepodong-2 launch vehicle, which could deploy nuclear or traditional payloads to the U.S. or Japan

North Korea tried its first Taepodong-2 test in July 2006, only to meet with failure.  Months later, it rocked the world of foreign diplomacy when it carried out a nuclear test.  Talks between the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China over North Korea's nuclear disarmament are currently stalled.

Eager to try its hand at another Taepodong-2 test, North Korea launched one over the weekend, only to fail once again according to the BBC.  North Korea's state run media at first reported that the satellite payload, named "Kwangmyongsong-2", had successfully reached orbit and was transmitting data, including the "Song of General Kim Il-sung" and "Song of General Kim Jong-il" -- national anthems praising North Korea's former leader, and his son, the current leader of North Korea.

However, U.S. intelligence quickly contradicted these reports, announcing that the missile failed during the second stage of separation on the three-stage rocket, occurring at approximately 0230 GMT.  North Korea's failed attempt scattered debris on the Sea of Japan and the Pacific.  Describes U.S. intelligence, "Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan/East Sea. The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean.  No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan."

U.S. officials "assessed the space launch vehicle as not a threat to North America or Hawaii and took no action in response to this launch," according to a statement.  The U.S. and Japan have a joint functional missile shield, which could have been deployed, had the launch been considered a threat.  The U.S., EU, Japan and South Korea all condemned the failed launch attempt.

Speaking to a crowd in the Czech capital, Prague, President Barack Obama, stated, "North Korea broke the rules once more by testing a rocket that could be used for a long-range missile.  This provocation underscores the need for action - not just this afternoon at the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons."

In particular, he says the launch clearly violates Security Council resolution 1718 adopted in October 2006, which bans North Korea from carrying out ballistic missile activity.  China and Russia, both former allies of North Korea, urged the U.S. and others to be conservative in their response to the violation.

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RE: Still Progress Though Which Is Scary...
By KGBird on 4/6/2009 2:17:16 PM , Rating: 2
Actually they've had to capability to hit Japan for quite a while. Their goal is to get an ICBM. The TS2 is a step in that direction.

But I agree, this was a test that supports their missile program. After all, the only difference between a space launch and an ICBM is where you point it and how/when you release the payload.

RE: Still Progress Though Which Is Scary...
By Basilisk on 4/6/2009 7:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
... the only difference between a space launch and an ICBM is where you point it and how/when you release the payload

If you believe that comment, you're discarding accuracy as a weapon value: if you can't target precisely, you're just firing your bullet in an arbitrary manner and betting your "terrorist threat capability" will scare the big kids into running away. You're playing this game against countries that can place each incoming ICBM within a 100 meters, and each nuclear cruise missile's attack within a couple of meters. That's a wildly asymmetric risk...

RE: Still Progress Though Which Is Scary...
By stromgald30 on 4/6/2009 7:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're underestimating the accuracy required to reach orbit. Firing a rocket straight up to get into orbit wastes a ton of energy, which is why launch vehicles turn/roll-over at some point in the launch.

Admittedly, none of us knows whether N. Korea's rocket took this into account or just tried to brute force it's way up. But if they can launch something into orbit, they can hit a medium to large city.

Of course, what you're saying about weapon accuracy in war is true, and if N. Korea's leaders were rational they wouldn't dare fire at Japan or S. Korea. But assuming that Kim Jong-Il is rational may be a stretch.

RE: Still Progress Though Which Is Scary...
By cheetah2k on 4/6/2009 9:16:18 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the real truth was as follows:

"North Korea claimed the missile's payload reached orbit, but it was caught in a lie by U.S. intelligence. The satellite, which was thought to contain anthems praising North Korea's dictator, was indeed sabotaged, and soon after launch it was discovered that it contained the anthem to "Team America" and chants of "Team America, Fcuk Yeah!" before North Korea detonated it over the Pacific Ocean"...

By Samus on 4/7/2009 4:37:08 AM , Rating: 1
The only thing scary is they are probably going to blow up the wrong fucking country when they do a real launch in the future.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch
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