N. Korea ruling party slams failed satellite launch in key meeting

N. Korea ruling party slams failed satellite launch in key meeting

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korea’s ruling party slammed a recent failed satellite launch in a high-level meeting, state media reported on Monday, “bitterly” criticising the officials responsible.

North Korea attempted to put its first military spy satellite into orbit on 31 May, but the projectile and its payload crashed into the sea shortly after launch due to what Pyongyang said was a rocket failure.

In the report from the meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the ruling party “bitterly criticised the officials who irresponsibly conducted the preparations for satellite launch” and demanded a probe into the “serious” failure, state-run KCNA said.

The committee reiterated a pledge to soon successfully launch its spy satellite, which Pyongyang has previously said it needs in order to counterbalance the growing US military presence in the region.

The 31 May launch was denounced by the United States, South Korea and Japan, which said it violated United Nations resolutions barring the nuclear-armed country from any tests using ballistic missile technology.

Analysts have said there is a significant technological overlap between the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and space launch capabilities.

Along with the attempted satellite launch, North Korea has conducted multiple sanctions-defying launches this year, including test-firing its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Relations between North and South Korea are at one of their lowest points, with diplomacy stalled and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calling for increased weapons development, including tactical nuclear weapons.

South Korea said in recent days it had successfully retrieved a large chunk of the crashed rocket from the seabed.

Seoul had been working for more than two weeks to recover the wreckage, as the debris could help scientists gain insight into Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and satellite surveillance programmes.

— AFP

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