Pyongyang, April 13 (IANS) A North Korean satellite, which South Korea calls a "ballistic missile", failed to enter orbit after its launch Friday morning, the official KCNA news agency reported.
Scientists and technicians are now looking into the cause of the failure, reported Xinhua.
South Korea said Friday that North Korea will have to "take responsibility" for the alleged failed long-range rocket launch, which breached a UN ban.
The 90-tonne Unha-3 rocket was launched at 7.39 a.m. from the Tongchang-ri launch site but broke into some 20 pieces and fell into sea one or two minutes after the lift-off, according to the South Korean defense ministry.
Describing the launch as "a ballistic missile test" and a "serious threat", the South Korean defense ministry said the broken pieces landed in waters some 100 to 150 km off South Korea's western port city of Gunsan.
South Korea and Japan had vowed to shoot down the three-staged rocket or parts of it if they fell within their territory, prompting North Korea to warn of "merciless punishment", but the debris fell in international waters.
Pyongyang has said the launch of a rocket-mounted satellite is to mark the birth centennial April 15 of the country's founding father Kim Il-sung.
It has said the rocket launch is for peaceful purposes and would "not affect" other countries.
Seoul and Washington, among others, see it as a disguised long-range ballistic missile test that runs counter to a UN Security Council resolution and a recent food aid deal between Pyongyang and Washington under which the former halts nuclear and missile tests.
"North Korea's long-range missile launch is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolution 1874 banning all launches using ballistic-missile technology, and is a provocative act that threatens peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the Northeast Asia," South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said in a statement following a National Security Council meeting involving President Lee Myung-bak.
"North Korea will have to take responsibility (for the launch)," Kim said, adding the government is seeking a "comprehensive response" to potential nuclear and missile threats posed by its northern neighbor.
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