North Korea launches long-range rocket carrier satellite

North Korea attempted to launch a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit on Monday, the South Korean military said, but the rocket carrying the satellite exploded in midair shortly after takeoff, marking the country’s third failed attempt to launch a spy satellite into orbit. .

Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, has made deploying a fleet of spy satellites one of his latest military ambitions. He has also focused on testing what he said were nuclear missiles capable of targeting the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

North Korea has said it needs satellites to increase its ability to monitor and attack its enemies and make its nuclear deterrent more credible.

After two failed attempts, North Korea placed its first spy satellite into orbit last November. Mr. Kim has said he will launch three more satellites this year. On Monday, North Korea said it would launch the first of the three by June 4.

Hours later, the South Korean military said it detected a rocket launched from the Tongchang-ri space station in northwest North Korea. The rocket flew over the sea between the Korean Peninsula and China, following the same southward trajectory that North Korea had used in its previous satellite launches.

The South Korean military said the rocket was believed to be carrying a satellite. But it said it considered the launch a failure after detecting debris falling into North Korean waters two minutes after takeoff. The rocket is believed to have exploded in midair, the South Korean military added.

North Korea also confirmed that its launch was a failure, and the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that its new booster rocket carrying a military reconnaissance satellite had exploded in mid-air.

The United States, South Korea and Japan have been watching North Korea’s preparations for a rocket launch for weeks. On Monday, they had Navy ships in waters around the Korean Peninsula to monitor the rocket and collect data, South Korea’s military said in a statement.

United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from launching long-range rockets because they use the same technology needed to build intercontinental ballistic missiles.

During such launches, South Korea and Japan typically put their militaries on alert and instruct residents of islands near the rocket’s path to take shelter inside buildings or underground for fear of falling debris.

North Korean satellites were once so rudimentary that they could hardly be considered reconnaissance tools, according to South Korean officials.

But more recently, North Korea has received satellite technology, as well as oil and food, from Russia in exchange for artillery shells and ballistic missiles to help Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.

South Korean officials have said Russia has also helped North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in another way: Earlier this year, Moscow used its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to dissolve a panel of UN experts who collected evidence of countries violating sanctions imposed on North Korea.

In recent weeks, Kim has visited munitions factories, encouraging workers to increase production. North Korean state media has also shown Kim visiting large warehouses filled with missile launch vehicles. South Korean analysts said the images were aimed at enticing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to visit North Korea by showing Putin much-needed weapons.

Common interests led Kim and Putin to meet in the Russian Far East last September. Putin then promised to visit North Korea.

North Korea has complained bitterly in recent weeks about joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and its “hostile aerial espionage.” Such activities have “become the root cause of ever-escalating regional military tensions,” Kim Kang Il, North Korea’s vice minister of defense, said in a statement Saturday.

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