US condemns failed North Korean rocket launch as breach of international security: report

people walking nearby a tv showing a rocket launch, with korean characters visible on the screen
A television broadcast showing file footage of a North Korean launch, playing in a train station in Seoul, South Korea on May 28, 2024. The broadcast took place after North Korea announced it launched its Malligyong-1-1 spy satellite, but the rocket exploded during the mission. (Image credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)

United States officials condemned North Korea's latest attempt to put a reconnaissance satellite in orbit, according to a report.

North Korea attempted to send a spy satellite into space on Monday (May 27). However, the rocket carrying that satellite exploded, according to multiple media sources quoting the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency. The country successfully placed its first reconnaissance satellite in orbit in November 2023, but two other more recent efforts besides Monday's also ended in failure.

The Guardian, quoting North Korean officials, suggested the rocket's failure was due to "the operational reliability of the newly developed liquid oxygen and oil engine." The U.S. State Department said the launch breached edicts from the U.N. Security Council, according to a statement provided to The Korea Times

"The United States condemns the (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) DPRK's May 27 launch, which incorporated technologies that are directly related to the DPRK's ballistic missile program and took place in violation of multiple UNSC resolutions," the statement read.

Related: North Korea claims it sent a spy satellite to orbit for 1st time: report

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted nine sanctions against North Korea since 2006 because the country has been maturing its nuclear and missile program, according to the Arms Control Association. United States officials have also condemned past North Korean launches, saying the nation's rocket program uses technologies that support its intercontinental ballistic missile program.

The latest launch took place at 10:44 p.m. local time (9:34 a.m. EDT or 1344 GMT) off the west coast of North Korea. Rocket debris fell in the nearby sea about two minutes after launch, according to Reuters, quoting the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

North Korea's launch happened hours after a three-way summit between China, South Korea and Japan that was meant to focus on trade and cultural exchanges between the countries, although another hot topic surrounded security concerns raised by the U.S., according to the New York Times.

Both Japan and South Korea have repeatedly asked North Korea not to conduct launches, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida repeated these pleas at the summit, Reuters reported. Chinese premier Li Qiang, while not discussing the launch, asked for hostilities to be curtailed in the region.

Japan and South Korea are both allies of the United States and participants under the American led-Artemis Accords that, in part, aim to establish peaceful norms for space exploration.

North Korea, a communist state, has been cut off from the rest of the world for much of the last 80 years and its citizens lack basic services. That said, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport last year during a five-hour summit; Russia is currently an International Space Station partner, but working on a new alliance with China following Russia's unsanctioned invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

China is forbidden from engaging in bilateral activities with NASA and the United States without express Congressional permission, under a 2011 decree known as the Wolf Amendment. China has been highly active in space in recent years, including with the development of missions to the moon and Mars and construction of the Tiangong space station for astronauts.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon:

  • Unclear Engineer
    The U.S. "condemning" anything that North Korea does in the way of rocket launches or nuclear technology is hardly "space news" and really just international politics that have had little effect on what North Korea does.

    The interesting aspect is that the rocket vehicle failed, and seems to be the 3rd failure in 4 attempts. But, considering how little we are told about the particulars of the North Korean rockets, there just isn't much news content here.
  • Jules1234
    Several comments on this report. First I am not pro North Korea, however saying that, you can certainly understand North Korea's conundrum and feelings towards having their own nuclear weapons and rockets by the simple fact that Ukraine was invaded by Russia after being told that they should give up their own nuclear weapons. Both the US Europe and Russia gave assurances to Ukraine as to their security.

    Further since North Korea and South Korea have never actually signed a peace treaty they are still in the state of war although nothing is actually happening. I truly think if the North Koreans were approached differently and given some carrots and I don't mean food and aid packages, but somehow given the opportunity to understand the rest of the world doesn't really care to invade them or take them over, maybe by tourism out of the country and into the country they would have a better understanding of world events and feelings.

    As far as their rocket program, obviously it's foolish for them to spend money on rockets and engineering when they have people starving and electricity only going on for 2 or 3 hours at night.

    I'm sure there's some more brilliant people out there that could figure out what to do to get North Korea into the fold of the world vs deciding that they have to be anti everybody else. Maybe whoever's going to be president in the next couple of months should invite Little Kim to the US for a tour. Maybe he should be invited to speak at the UN and he should be given a better welcome. Anyway it's a shame that the rocket did blow up
  • Unclear Engineer
    I think it is naïve to believe that North Korea can somehow be "convinced" to stop what it is doing and be integrated into the rest of the world to live peacefully ever after.

    Look at what happened with Russia, which was well on its way to being peacefully integrated into the rest of the world. The people there "selected" a ruthless dictator to rule them, and he has used the paranoia he helped foster to justify armed conflicts with most of Russia's immediate neighbors, mainly because they don't like Putin. Russia is becoming more like North Korea. And, North Korea has developed the Kim Dynasty that perpetuates itself with paranoia about South Korea and the U.S. The Kim's are not going to relinquish their hold on their personal country, because it is not in their personal best interest. If the whole North Korean population were to realize what the Kims have done to them, the Kim's would be in mortal danger.

    It used to be thought that a country with nuclear weapons would begin to realize that it is much less likely to be invaded, and then become less belligerent. But, as nuclear weapons are acquired by nearly all belligerent nations, the odds of conflict involving nuclear weapons seems to be increasing, now. Russia has threatened to use them if other countries strike inside Russia to hit the weapons that Russia is using to hit other countries from within its own boarders. And, some crazy dictator somewhere may some day decide that he will destroy the whole world if he can't control the whole world. Some religious zealots may even believe that it is their deity's will that they destroy the Earth, and that they will be rewarded in heaven for doing so.

    The Kim's have been educated abroad, under assumed names, so they do know what life is like outside of North Korea. They just don't want their citizens to know. And, they may use China's invasion of Taiwan as an opportunity to invade South Korea, which could escalate out of control into a nuclear world war.

    So, I am not at all sorry to read that a North Korean rocket blew-up. But, I don't expect that they will not be able to eventually succeed in orbiting satellites and developing nuclear warheads and ICBMs to deliver them.
  • COLGeek
    Enough political chat, folks. Stick to the launch failure aspects of the article, but please leave the politics for elsewhere.

    Thank you.
  • Unclear Engineer
    An article that stuck to the launch failure aspects and did not have a solidly political title like "US condemns failed North Korean rocket launch as breach of international security" is much less likely to have comments that devolve into political chat.
  • COLGeek
    And we are done here. Thank you.