South Korean and U.S. intelligence have declared North Korea’s rocket launch on Friday a failure. Multiple reports indicate the 90-ton rocket launched at 6:39 p.m. EDT and within a few minutes, broke into four pieces and crashed into the sea off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea, which days earlier moved a three-stage rocket its west coast, had stated that the purpose of the missile launch was to put a weather satellite into orbit. However some experts believe that the launch was just a guise to test its ability to fire a long-range missile.
“The main audience for this missile is internal not external,” said Donald Gregg, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1989-1993 and an ABC News consultant, before the launch. “This is [Kim Jong Un’s] way of demonstrating to the people of North Korea he is in charge and his country is capable of high tech things. It is a manifestation of his power.”
Only about six weeks ago, North Korea agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests. In return, the U.S. had agreed to provide the impoverished nation with 240,000 metric tons of food.
“It’s impossible to imagine that we would be able to follow through [and] provide the nutritional assistance that we had planned on providing, given what would be a flagrant violation of North Korea’s basic international obligations,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.