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No Steps Forward, Two Steps Back: North Korean Launch Ends with Catastrophic System Failure

SOURCE: AP/David Guttenfelder

A crowd of media gather around an official on a road in front of the Unha-3 rocket at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea before liftoff on April 8, 2012. The rocket, which launched today, experienced a catastrophic system failure during the boost phase.

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Once again a North Korean rocket launch threatened the safety of its neighbors and will result in further isolation for the backward regime in Pyongyang.

Today’s launch closed the door on another opportunity for Pyongyang to join civilized nations in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. What was supposed to be a grand tribute to the centennial celebration of Kim Il Sung failed in the first minutes of flight, with a catastrophic system failure during the rocket’s boost phase. The launch demonstrates complete disregard for regional security and international law. The U.N. Security Council will soon meet and likely censure the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as well as tighten sanctions.

Sadly, today’s launch also limits the prospects of future negotiations with Pyongyang, including progress on an agreement to provide the people of North Korea with needed food and medicine. The regime’s decision to spend $850 million on a missile test instead of feeding its starving population hurts the North Korean citizens above all else, and reflects a serious failure by the leadership in Pyongyang.

The United States will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with South Korea, Japan, and all of our partners in the Asia Pacific to argue that North Korea’s posturing limits the prospects of future negotiations and leaves North Korea even more isolated within the global community.

John Podesta is Chair and Counselor and Rudy deLeon is Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress.

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