North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command officials acknowledged today that U.S. systems detected and tracked a launch of a North Korean TaepoDong-2 missile at 6:39 p.m. EDT.
The missile was tracked on a southerly launch over the Yellow Sea, according to a statement issued from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.
Initial indications are that the missile’s first stage fell into the sea 102.5 miles west of Seoul, South Korea, the statement says. The other two stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land, it says.
“At no time were the missile or resulting debris a threat,” it says.
“Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement tonight, “North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments.”
The action is not surprising given North Korea’s pattern of aggressive behavior, he added, but any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community.
“The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security of our allies in the region,” Carney said.
President Barack Obama “has been clear that he is prepared to engage constructively with North Korea,” the press secretary said, adding that the president “has also insisted that North Korea live up to its own commitments, adhere to its international obligations and deal peacefully with its neighbors.”
North Korea will only show strength and find security, Carney added, “by abiding by international law, living up to its obligations, and by working to feed its citizens, to educate its children, and to win the trust of its neighbors.”
A spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology announced March 16 that North Korea would launch a long-range Unha-3 rocket between April 12 and 16.
He said the rocket would carry a North Korean-made Kwangmyongsong-3 polar-orbiting observation satellite to mark the 100th birthday of the late President Kim Il Sung on April 15.