North Korea calls failed spy satellite launch ‘the most serious’ shortcoming, vows 2nd launch

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends an enlarged plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, which was held between June 16 and 18, at the party's headquarters in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea — Top North Korean officials vowed to push for a second attempt to launch a spy satellite as they called their country’s first, and failed, launch last month “the most serious” shortcoming this year and harshly criticized those responsible, state media reported Monday.

In late May, a North Korean rocket carrying a military reconnaissance satellite crashed soon after liftoff, posing a setback to leader Kim Jong Un’s push to acquire a space-based surveillance system to better monitor the United States and South Korea.


The failed launch and North Korean efforts to modernize its weapons arsenals were discussed heavily at a three-day ruling party meeting that ended Sunday, with the presence of Kim and other top officials.

A lengthy Korean Central News Agency dispatch on the meeting didn’t clearly say who spoke, but said a report to the meeting “bitterly criticized the officials who irresponsibly conducted the preparations for (the) satellite launch.”

The report set forth tasks for officials and scientists to learn the lesson of the failed launch, find what caused the rocket’s crash and make a successful launch in a short span of time, KCNA said.

It didn’t say exactly when North Korea might attempt a second launch. But South Korea’s spy agency earlier told lawmakers that it would take likely take “more than several weeks” for North Korea to determine what went wrong in the failed launch.

North Korea monitoring groups haven’t reported any purges or dismissals of scientists or others involved in the failed launch. Observers say Kim has well treated scientists and technicians working in the country’s weapons development program though he orchestrated a slew of high-profile executions or purges of top officials to boost his grip on power in the early stage of his rule.

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