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North Korea spy satellite crashes into sea, Seoul salvages wreckage

By AFP
June 01, 2023

SEOUL: North Korea attempted to launch a spy satellite on Wednesday but it crashed into the sea after a rocket failure, with the South Korean military retrieving part of the likely wreckage in a potential intelligence bonanza.North Korea does not have a functioning satellite in space and leader Kim Jong Un has made developing a military spy satellite a top priority for his regime, despite UN resolutions banning its use of such technology.

Pyongyang had said in the build-up to the launch attempt that the satellite would be vital to monitoring the military movements of the United States and its allies. But the rocket lost thrust and plunged into the sea with its satellite payload, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.It added that authorities would investigate the “serious defects” revealed by the launch and conduct another test as soon as possible. South Korea´s military said it had managed to locate and salvage a portion of the suspected debris.

It released images showing a large barrel-like metal structure with thin pipes and wires at the bottom, which experts said might be a liquid fuel tank. “Technical experts will be able to gain tremendous insight into North Korea´s proficiency with large, multi-stage boosters from the recovered debris,” US-based analyst Ankit Panda told AFP.The launch prompted confusion and panic in Seoul, as city authorities sent an early morning emergency evacuation alert to residents and blasted an air raid siren across the downtown area.

This sparked widespread consternation online, before the interior ministry clarified minutes later the alert had been “incorrectly issued”. “I was taking my two young children to a basement parking lot as advised, in shock,” a 37-year-old father who asked to be identified by his surname Yoon, told AFP. The correction left him “speechless and outraged”, he said. Japan briefly activated its missile alert warning system for the Okinawa region early Wednesday, lifting it after about 30 minutes.