​North Korea Criticizes Officials for Failed Satellite Launch​


North Korea’s top political leaders “bitterly criticized” officials responsible for a botched attempt to launch a military satellite last month and ordered them to try again, state media reported on Monday.

The May 31 launch was meant to put North Korea’s first military reconnaissance satellite into orbit. But the rocket, which set off alarms and an evacuation order in Seoul, malfunctioned and crashed into the​ sea off South Korea’s west coast.

The South later salvaged what appeared to be the second stage of the rocket — a new model, the Chollima-1 — along with other debris that could provide valuable data on the North’s advancing rocket and missile technology.

At a meeting of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party that ended Sunday, the party’s Politburo “bitterly criticized the officials who irresponsibly conducted the preparations for satellite launch,”​ the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, presided over the meeting, according to the report, which made no mention of any punishment for officials involved in the failed launch.

Experts say that putting spy satellites into orbit would make North Korea’s military more effective and its nuclear arsenal more dangerous. Mr. Kim has made it his top priority to expand that arsenal​ even as he struggles to kick-start his country’s sputtering economy.

At the party meeting, the Politburo said the rapid development of the North’s nuclear and missile programs had created an “insurmountable security crisis” for the United States and its allies in the region. But it also revealed shortcomings, “the most serious” of which was the failure of the satellite launch,​ it said.

Officials and scientists were ordered to solve their technical problems and launch another satellite “in a short span of time,” according to the state media report.

United Nations Security Council resolutions bar North Korea from launching ballistic missiles as well as rockets for its space program. Testing such rockets helps the North develop ​the long-range ballistic missiles that it wants to equip with nuclear warheads, the U.N. says.

North Korea has carried out an unusually high number of missile tests since last year, apparently taking advantage of what Mr. Kim has called “a neo-cold war,” as tensions rise between the United States and China and conflict rages in Ukraine. The White House has also accused the North of supplying infantry rockets and missiles​ to Russia for use in Ukraine, which Pyongyang has denied.

The heightened global polarization has helped North Korea in some respects. In recent months, Russia and China have stymied American attempts at the Security Council to impose new penalties on the North for its weapons tests.

But it has also prompted the United States, Japan and South Korea to step up their military cooperation, citing the need to ensure stability in Northeast Asia and guard against what they call the North​​’s reckless behavior.

At the Workers’ Party meeting, North Korean officials called for “further strengthening solidarity with the countries which are opposed to the U.S. brigandish strategy for world supremacy.”

North Korea said the “complicated and serious situation​” around the Korean Peninsula required ​it to “ceaselessly renew its military potentials​.” Recent weapons tests have showed that the North is trying to diversify its options for potentially launching nuclear attacks while making its missiles harder to detect and intercept.


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