Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pentagon Discusses Details of North Korea Missile Launch

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2009 -- North Korea last night launched a three-stage missile that failed to achieve orbit and fell back into the Pacific Ocean without incident, according to a U.S. military news release.

The missile passed over Japan but jettisoned no debris there, according to the U.S. Northern Command news release issued today.

The missile’s flight path had presented no threat to North America or Hawaii, the release stated.

The Taepodong 2 missile’s first stage fell into the Sea of Japan; the rest of the stages and the payload, reportedly a communications satellite, landed in the Pacific Ocean, according to the release. The North Koreans say the rocket had successfully placed the satellite into orbit, according to news reports.

During his visit to Europe, President Barack Obama reportedly said in Prague after hearing of the launch that North Korea’s missile launch was provocative and violated UN international security rules, according to news reports.

Any North Korean missile launch would have a negative impact on efforts to lessen tensions in the region, a U.S. State Department official told reporters in the days leading up to last night’s launch.

The North Koreans have insisted that their Taepodong 2 missile launch is for peaceful purposes. North Korea’s neighbors South Korea and Japan were alarmed at the possibility of another launch. The North Koreans conducted an unsuccessful missile launch in 2006 when their rocket briefly passed over Japanese territory.

Another North Korean missile launch “would be counterproductive” to soothing tensions in the region, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters at an April 2 news conference in Washington, D.C.

International diplomats have employed Six-Party Talks to persuade North Korea to jettison its nuclear weapons program. Arms control experts believe that a nuclear-armed North Korea would ratchet up tensions and prompt a nuclear-arms race across the region.

(Report by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.)

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