Neighbors angry as another North Korean 'satellite' launch attempt fails

US, Japan, and South Korea are well and truly over this sham

North Korea's Thursday attempt to launch a "military reconnaissance satellite" failed, state media has reported.

The launch occured out of Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Cholsan County of North Phyongan Province around 04:00 on Thursday, local time.

"The flights of the first and second stages of the rocket were normal, but the launch failed due to an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight," according to KCNA.

The National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) said it would give further details on the abnormality at a later date. It also called the incident "not a big problem" in terms of system and engine reliability and said it would try a third launch in October.

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida is reportedly not happy about any of this, telling reporters the launch contravened UN resolutions.

Pyongyang had warned Japan of its launch intentions earlier this week. Kishida's response referred to the object being hurtled into space as a "ballistic missile" and he instructed his government to "take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese people, including fully preparing for contingencies."

Those contingencies include maritime warnings that debris could rain down from the sky assuming North Korea's plan failed – an assumption with some historical merit. North Korea's last attempt, a mere three months ago, ended up in the Yellow Sea.

Calling into question the spacecraft's purpose is also warranted. It turned out that May 2023 "reconnaissance satellite" had no military utility for spying, according to South Korean analysis of the wreckage.

One likely theory is that North Korea is testing ballistic missiles against international rules under the guise of building a space program – a narrative more likely to evoke support than weapons testing.

Seoul's chief nuclear negotiator reportedly condemned the latest launch.

Last week, leaders from Japan, South Korea, and the US released a statement promising the three countries would improve mechanisms "to exchange real-time missile warning data that will improve mutual detection and assessment of DPRK missile launches."

The trio also expressed concern over North Korea's use of cryptocurrency money laundering to fund its rocketry and weapons programs.

On Tuesday, the FBI issued a warning that North Korean-backed cyber gang Lazarus may try to liquidate a stash of stolen Bitcoin worth over $40 million. ®

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