Another North Korean Space Launch Fails

Another North Korean Space Launch Fails

For the second time in three months, North Korea’s attempt to launch a reconnaissance satellite into orbit failed. The country’s state news agency attributed it to a third stage malfunction and downplayed the accident, saying they will try again in October.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang reported that the National Aerospace Development Administration launched the new Chollima-1 rocket “at dawn” August 24 from the Sohae Satellite Launch Center. The first and second stages worked as planned, but “the launch failed due to an error in the emergency blasting system during the third stage flight” according to KCNA.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency identified the satellite as Malligyong-1, a military reconnaissance satellite and reported the launch time as 3:50 am local time (2:50 pm August 23 EDT).

Jesse Johnson of the Japan Times tweeted (@jljzen) the apparent flight path.

In an August 23 EDT statement, the White House immediately condemned the launch because it involves technologies “directly related” to North Korea’s ICBMs.

“The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for its launch using ballistic missile technology, which despite its failure, is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond.  This space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile program.  The President’s national security team is assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners.  We urge all countries to condemn this launch and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations.  The door has not closed on diplomacy but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement.  The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and the defense of our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.”

The next day, the G7 foreign ministers — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the High Representative of the European Union — issued their own statement calling it a “flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions.”

“We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, condemn in the strongest terms North Korea’s launch using ballistic missile technology conducted on August 24, 2023. This launch is a clear, flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and poses a grave threat to regional and international peace and stability.

“Despite the repeated calls from the international community, North Korea continues to intensify its escalatory actions through a record number of ballistic missile launches, which only attest to its determination to advance and diversify its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. We once again reiterate our demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons, existing nuclear programs, and any other weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner and fully comply with all obligations under the relevant UNSCRs. North Korea cannot and will never have the status of a nuclear-weapon State under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

“North Korea’s reckless action must be met with a swift, united, and robust international response, particularly by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The frequency of North Korea’s repeated blatant violations of UNSCRs juxtaposed with the UNSC’s corresponding inaction because of some members’ obstruction is cause for significant alarm. We urge the UNSC Members to follow through on their commitments. We call on North Korea to engage in meaningful diplomacy and accept the repeated offers of dialogue put forward by Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea without preconditions.

“We deplore North Korea’s choice to divert its limited resources to fund its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, thereby aggravating the suffering of the people in North Korea and contributing to human rights violations and abuses.

“The G7 remains committed to working with all relevant partners toward the goal of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and to upholding the international order based on the rule of law.”

A similar satellite is thought to have been lost in a May 31, 2023 launch attempt. In that case, the rocket fell into the Yellow Sea and debris was recovered by South Korea’s military, which assessed the satellite as having “no military utility.”

North Korea successfully orbited two earth observation satellites in 2012 and 2016 respectively.


This article has been updated.

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