N. Korea springs surprise with rocket launch

WASHINGTON — North Korea’s successful launch of a long-range rocket caught the world by surprise after the secretive regime in Pyongyang claimed technical issues had caused a delay. It drew immediate condemnation from the U.S.

North Korea declared the launch of a rocket and satellite a success early Wednesday local time. Three hours later, the U.S. military confirmed that an object appeared to achieve orbit.

The White House called it a “highly provocative act.”

On Saturday, North Korea had widened the dates during which it might conduct the launch of its Unha-3 rocket, citing a technical problem. Washington says the launch is a cover for testing technology for missiles that could be used to strike the United States. The previous four attempts all failed.

“It was a surprise in terms of the timing,” said Bruce Bennett, senior defense analyst with the RAND think tank. “They had talked about postponing for a week. To recover so quickly from technical problems suggests they have gotten good at putting together a missile.”

North Korea has also conducted two nuclear tests since 2006, deepening international concern over its capabilities, although it is not believed to have mastered how to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.

The U.S., Japan and South Korea last week vowed to seek further U.N. Security Council action if the North conducted a launch. It remained to be seen whether Russia and China, the North’s main ally, would agree to further sanctions.

Victor Cha, a Korea expert at Georgetown University and a former White House policy director for Asia, said a successful launch was a major national security concern for the United States.

He said there would still be technical hurdles for the North to overcome, particularly in terms of getting a rocket to re-enter the atmosphere, but it would mean that North Korea is able to launch a long-range ballistic missile — the first rival state to the U.S. do so since the Soviet Union and China.

Rep. Ed Royce, incoming Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the launch showed that new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons program. Royce also criticized U.S. policy toward Pyongyang, calling it a “long-term failure.”

“The Obama administration’s approach continues to be unimaginative and moribund. We can either take a different approach, or watch as the North Korean threat to the region and the U.S. grows,” Royce said in a statement.

More in Local News

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Firefighters come to the rescue and give mom new stroller

Donations to the Good Neighbor Program covered the $143.20 cost.

He drank nearly a gallon of vodka, then grabbed a cop’s gun

He got pummeled for that. Police had been trying to keep him on a gurney for an ambulance ride.

Police seek witnesses to hit-and-run

An 88-year-old woman was hurt when a Prius turned right at an intersection and struck her walker.

Man killed in collision near Highway 92 identified

Kristofor Nordgren, of Lake Stevens, was driving his Subaru when it hit atruck and a Ford Focus.

Case unresolved: The noose at an Edmonds construction site

Though two were fired over comments about it, police were unable to determine who put it there.

To get drug money, Lynnwood man says he cut 911 wires

Those wires happened to be the ones used by 911 dispatchers, but emergency services weren’t affected.

February trial set for suspect in deadly Marysville shooting

There had been questions about Wayne Alpert’s mental health.

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Most Read