Sunday, April 5, 2009

Satellite launch sparks conflicting claims

By Wang Linyan (China Daily)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Sunday it launched a satellite into orbit which was circling the Earth transmitting songs - but the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) said it had failed to enter orbit.
The "Taepodong-2" rocket was launched at 11:20 am local time (0220 GMT) from the East Sea Launch Ground in the east coast of the country, the DPRK's Korean Central News Agency said.
The "Kwangmyongsong-2" satellite was sent into orbit at 11:29 am local time (0229 GMT), the agency said.
But North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command officials issued a statement disputing any success.
"Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan," the statement said. "The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean. No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan."
ROK Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee said that Seoul had judged that the DPRK had failed to put its satellite launched into orbit, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.
"Based on our judgment made so far, all first, second and third (stage) rockets fell into the ocean, and thus nothing has been put into orbit," Kyodo quoted Lee as telling a parliamentary session in Seoul.
US, ROK and Japanese officials - who monitored the launch from nearby warships and high-resolution spy satellite cameras - have said they suspect the DPRK was testing long-range ballistic missile technology that could be used to carry a nuclear warhead to Alaska or beyond.
The US insisted it was a missile launch, but the ROK, in a U-turn, said it was a satellite. Japan used "flying object" to describe it.

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