North Korean Launch Failure Helps US Intel

Luis Ramirez

The U.S. military is analyzing North Korea’s failed missile launch.  The Pentagon says it does not yet know why the missile broke apart in what U.S. officials say was the second phase of Friday's launch, spilling debris into the sea off the coast of the Korean Peninsula.  The failed launch attempt, however, has already provided a wealth of new information on Pyongyang’s missile program.

For North Korea, this was supposed to be a show of pride.  Pyongyang had invited foreign journalists for a rare glimpse of its secretive program.

Breaking up in just seconds, the failure was quick and obvious -- and so has been the payoff for analysts like Tim Brown of  Compared to the satellite imagery he normally analyzes, journalists’ photos from up close are a bonanza for him.

“For one thing, to be able to see this from a couple of hundred yards away is just breathtaking.  We’re able to see the launch tower and the rocket in excruciating detail that leaves nothing to the imagination,” Brown said.

North Korea had hoped to showcase the missile as a major technological advance.  

Brown says what the launch really showed was how primitive its program is.

“For example the gantry on the tower, which is the crane that they use to move everything around, looked sort of military or missile related.  And to take a look at it now, up close, it’s just a regular construction crane that you can see anywhere in the world,” Brown said.   

The U.S. military watched the missile lift off and break into pieces over the sea off the Korean Peninsula in the second phase of the launch, and is now analyzing what happened.

The failure perhaps allays some worries for U.S. officials -- who were concerned that the missile might have a long enough range to reach key U.S. Pacific installations on Okinawa in Japan, or Guam.

But the Pentagon still considers the failed launch a serious matter and is calling it a provocative act.

Patrick Cronin, a defense analyst with the Center for a New American Security says the U.S. has reason to remain concerned.  

“North Korea is repeating this cycle of missile tests, potentially nuclear tests and we say This is just the status quo, but it’s not the status quo because North Korea keeps improving its capabilities.  These are very serious capabilities that they’re improving.  By breaking the cycle it means we’ve got to be willing to do something more dramatic,” Cronin said.  

With the missile launch behind, U.S. defense officials now have their eye on Pyongyang’s next move and what South Korean intelligence believes may be plans by the north to carry out a new underground nuclear test.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: mike
April 15, 2012 3:28 PM
Oh yes the U.S.A is waiting for there next move

lets play this scenerio North korea stages another test and the rest of the world just shrugs there shoulders

But this time it is successfull with a nuclear payload and with china behind them and Russia by there side they launch a collective strike against America

but wait, what da hell do i know

Just a dumb Canadian

by: Anonymous
April 15, 2012 1:13 AM
If North Korea isn't launching anything which is supposed to be a threat, then why won't they explain everything? They don't even give the full specifications of the rocket. Why do they keep a low profile about these matters? By the way, if the rocket is just a satellite carrier sending a satellite to orbit in space then why does their rocket need to fly horizontally in earth? If they want to send it to space then they must fly it vertically. If this is necessary, please inform me. Thank you.

by: Most people
April 14, 2012 11:46 PM
Hahahaha nice FAIL North Korea! You are a pathetic country!

by: YourMom
April 13, 2012 8:26 PM
Earth IS Dying And Everyone Can See It....By War, Pollution, Disasters, ETC. We Are All Going To Die Soon If We Dont Work As One And Heal This Land So All Kids Can Enjoy Life...Cause Yes We Can Maybe Go To Different Planets, But Can We Afford It? I Know I Cant ... So Please Lets Get Along And Work Together As One

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

Day in Photos

A dog, with his fur dyed green and wearing antlers made out of red fabric, poses for a photograph before participating in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in El Paso, Texas, United States, Nov. 26, 2015.

A dog, with his fur dyed green and wearing antlers made out of red fabric, poses for a photograph before participating in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in El Paso, Texas, United States, Nov. 26, 2015.