North Korea fired a long-range missile into South Korea from its launch site in Dongchang-ri, Cheolsan-gun, Pyeonganbuk-do, on February 7 at 9:30 a.m. (KST). South Korean military presumes that North Korea’s projectile has successfully entered the orbit. North Korea claims the projectile is an artificial satellite. However, many international observers think the true purpose is military.
The Ministry of National Defense said at a press conference held in the morning of the same day, “Our Sejong the Great Aegis destroyer in the West Sea identified the long-range missile at 9:31 a.m. The first stage of the rocket fell in the western sea at 9:32 a.m., and disappeared from the Aegis destroyer’s radar at 9:36 a.m. southwest of Jeju Island. South Korea and the United States are jointly assessing whether the launch was a success. As of now, no damages have been reported from aircraft and vessels.”
The first-phase propellant fell on the waters 147 km (91 miles) west of Gunsan City, Jeolla Province, and the second-phase one on the waters 154 km (96 miles) east of Manila, the Philippines. Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun said North Korea’s missile separated into five segments after its takeoff, and four of them fell into areas projected earlier by North Korea. So, Japan did not attempt to intercept the rocket.
CNN, citing U.S. officials, said that the same type of rocket used to launch the satellite could deliver a nuclear warhead. It also emphasized that North Korea carried out the rocket launch so soon after the January 6 nuclear test. A senior U.S. defense official said, “Based upon its trajectory, it was determined that it did not pose a threat to the U.S. or our allies. The launch vehicle appears to have reached space.”
Cheongwadae (Blue House), South Korean presidential office/residence, issued a statement on North Korea’s long-range missile launch. Cho-Tae-yong, Deputy Chief of National Security at Cheongwadae, denounced, “North Korea’s long-range missile launch, which was carried out during ongoing discussions on a UN Security Council sanction resolution regarding North Korea’s recent nuclear test, is not only a flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions, but also an extreme act of provocation once again committed solely to maintain the North Korean regime, neglecting the lives of its people and disregarding the international community’s earnest desire for peace.”
He also said with emphasis, “The Government and the international community have made a variety of proposals to persuade North Korea to come forward to the dialogue table, including the Six-party Talks. This has resulted in allowing North Korea to buy time to advance its nuclear capabilities. Now the only way to make North Korea give up its nuclear development is to adopt significant and strong sanctions, so as to make North Korea give up its nuclear programs.”
Additionally, he said, “The Government of the Republic of Korea will not only all-out efforts to adopt strong sanction measures at the UN Security Council, but also continue to impose necessary pressure so that North Korea will have no option but to change. In addition, the Government of the Republic of Korea will put the Republic of Korea Armed Forces at a watertight readiness posture to respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, and take substantial measures to bolster our security capability at the ROK-U.S. alliance level.”