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North Korea says 2nd attempt to put spy satellite into orbit failed

North Korean state media said its second attempt to launch a military spy satellite into orbit failed, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday.

North Korea launched a long-range rocket in a southern direction on Thursday, South Korea's military said.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch involved what the North called "a space launch vehicle."

It said South Korea detected the rocket flying above international waters off the Korean Peninsula's west coast after its liftoff at the North's northwestern Tongchang-ri area at 3:50 a.m. The site is where North Korea's main space launch center is located. The North made its first, failed launch of a spy satellite there in late May. 

North Korean state media announced it would carry out its third attempt to launch the satellite in October, Yonhap reported.

The office of Japan's prime minister issued an evacuation order for the Okinawa area early Thursday morning, which it later lifted. The warning, posted on social media, asked residents to look out for property damaged by falling objects.

South Korea's military said it has bolstered its surveillance posture and maintains a readiness in close coordination with the United States.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visit an exhibition of armed equipment
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visit an arms exhibition on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in an image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on July 27, 2023. KCNA via REUTERS

On Tuesday, Japan's coast guard said North Korean authorities notified it about a plan to launch a satellite at some time from Aug. 24 through Aug. 30. Coast guard spokesperson Hiromune Kikuchi said the notice didn't specify the type of satellite, but that he believed it would be similar to North Korea's May launch.

On May 31, a North Korean rocket carrying a spy satellite plunged into the sea soon after liftoff, posing a setback to leader Kim Jong Un's push to establish a space-based surveillance system to better monitor the U.S. and South Korea. North Korea had since vowed to make a second attempt.

After its failed first launch, North Korea made an unusually quick admission of failure after its newly developed Chollima-1 rocket lost thrust between launch stages and crashed into the sea on May 31. The North's ruling party leadership described the failed launch as a serious setback in the country's efforts to bolster its military capabilities amid tensions with rivals.

Adrienne Watson, National Security Council spokesperson, said in a statement that the U.S. "strongly condemns" North Korea's "launch using ballistic missile technology," calling it a "brazen violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions."

"This space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile program," Watson said. "The president's national security team is assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners." 

Thursday's launch came three days after the U.S. and South Korean militaries kicked off annual military drills that North Korea calls an invasion rehearsal.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said the U.S.-South Korean exercises are increasing the danger of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula. It said the current situation is compelling North Korea to take "offensive, overwhelming" steps, but didn't elaborate.

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