Seoul Military Releases Photos Of Salvaged N Korean Spy Satellite Debris

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SEOUL, South Korea (A.P.) — Seoul’s military has released images of part of a North Korean spy satellite that crashed soon after launch Wednesday due to a rocket failure. The images show a sizeable barrel-like metal structure with thin pipes and wires at the bottom that experts say could be a liquid fuel tank. The debris was found and salvaged in waters 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Eocheong Island. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made developing a military spy satellite a top priority for his regime, overseeing some launch preparations personally. But Wednesday’s failure was a setback as the country grapples with security tensions with the United States and its regional allies. It was also a blow to the international community’s efforts to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons program.

The KCNA report said the rocket’s upper stage failed to separate from the second stage, causing it to break up mid-air. The second stage subsequently fell into the sea along with the satellite. It said a “grave accident” occurred during the satellite’s flight, which had been announced on state television earlier.

Analysts say the recovered debris will help South Korea assess Pyongyang’s proficiency with large, multi-stage rockets. It is the first such test for North Korea since 2016.

Pyongyang seeks a high-resolution spy satellite to monitor troop movements, significant targets, and even warships. But outside experts say the spy satellite announced by Pyongyang on Tuesday appears to need to be more sophisticated.

Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington widely criticized the launch of the satellite and its quick crash. They say it violates a raft of U.N. resolutions that ban North Korea from testing any launches using ballistic missile technology. Because long-range missiles and rockets for space launches use the same technology, analysts say gaining the ability to put a satellite into orbit can provide cover for testing banned intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In Seoul, air raid sirens sounded, and cellphone text messages called for evacuations shortly after the early morning launch, causing panic among residents. But Seoul’s government quickly called the alert a mistake and canceled it. Japan also issued an evacuation warning for Okinawa prefecture in southwestern Japan, within the suspected path of the rocket’s fall into the sea.

Most of the 28,500 U.S. service members based in South Korea have already moved to hubs south of Seoul as part of a previously delayed relocation plan. Still, the 210th FAB and other residual forces will remain at Camp Casey near the border with the North for the foreseeable future. The Pentagon says they will remain on standby in the event of an emergency or if North Korea conducts another missile test. A.P.’s Kim Ji-min and Seung Hyun Choi contributed to this report. Associated Press writers John Busby in Beijing and Edith Lederer in Washington also contributed. This video was produced by the A.P.’s Adam Levine and Matt Smith.


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