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China calls for calm after failed launch of N Korean satellite

Closest ally China on Friday called for calm after North Korea's much monitored satellite launch failed for reasons yet to be made public by Pyongyang.

world Updated: Apr 13, 2012 19:33 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Closest ally China on Friday called for calm after North Korea's much monitored satellite launch failed for reasons yet to be made public by Pyongyang.

An earth observation satellite launched by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) early on Friday morning failed to enter its preset orbit, the country's official news agency KCNA reported.

The Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite, carried by a long-range Unha-3 rocket, was launched at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, at 07.38 am local time (2238 GMT, Thursday), the KCNA said.

Reports said the satellite broke into pieces after the launch and the fragments fell into the sea.

DPRK scientists and technicians are looking into the cause of the failure, the KCNA said.

Following the failure, and speculation about how the secretive country could react, China called for "calm and restraint."

Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said: "China stresses that the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in northeastern Asia is a common responsibility of, and in the interests of, all sides."

China had expressed concern after the Communist regime announced its plan to launch the satellite.

"We have kept close communications with the DPRK, Russia, the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan for a while," Liu told a press conference.

"Under the current circumstances, we will continue to coordinate with all sides in an effort to jointly maintain regional peace and stability," he added.

While expressing concern ahead of the launch, China has also said Japan for one was using the launch as the pretext to reinvent its armed forces as more proactive rather than defensive one.

"Japan hopes to use the DPRK's satellite launch to examine its missile defense capabilities under simulated conditions. But its high-profile response to the launch - deploying seven ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles on Okinawa, Ishigaki and other areas and stationing three destroyers with Aegis combat systems and Standard Missile-3 interceptors in the Sea of Japan and in waters around Okinawa - underscores the transition of its exclusively defense-oriented policy to a proactive policy aimed at containing China and reinforcing its hold on islands it seized from China," the government-controlled China Daily newspaper said on Friday.

The launch of the satellite, even though it failed, also put a question mark on an agreement between the US and North Korea; Washington had agreed to ship 40000 metric tonnes of food if Pyongyang put its nuclear and missile testing on hold.

A South Korean intelligence report has also claimed that North Korea could soon go for a third nuclear test.