Seoul salvages a piece of North Korea's botched rocket launch

Sailors prepare to lift the wreckage from the sea. (Photo: South Korea Defence Ministry via Reuters)

Last month, North Korea attempted to launch its first military satellite but was unsuccessful. South Korea has now recovered some of the rockets used in that attempt.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced on Friday that the part had been recovered the evening before and that the search for additional objects from what the North claims were a space launch vehicle continued.

On May 31, North Korea attempted to launch its first surveillance satellite into space aboard the Chollima-1, but the rocket encountered problems during flight and crashed into the ocean. The flight was the sixth satellite launch attempt by the nuclear-armed nation and the first since 2016.

Since the disaster, South Korea has been conducting salvage operations around the island of Eocheongdo on the west coast to locate the debris, with the heavy parts believed to have sunk to a depth of approximately 75 meters.

Photographs released by the South Korean military depicted sailors preparing to extract a 15-meter-long (49-foot) cylindrical object from the ocean.

"Expert organizations, including the Agency for Defense Development, will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the recovered object," the military said in a statement.

In the salvage operation, the navy deployed a team of specially trained divers, two salvage and rescue ships, a submarine rescue ship, and a P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, Yonhap reported, citing a JCS official.

According to the report, the endeavor faced numerous obstacles, including underwater visibility of only 50 centimeters (20 inches).

Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, has pledged to launch the country's first surveillance satellite as part of his military development program, which has resulted in a rapid modernization of the country's military arsenal.

Despite a United Nations moratorium on ballistic missile launches, North Korea conducted a record number of weapons tests in 2022 and continued its launch program throughout the year.

It launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday evening, a move condemned by the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

The launch coincided with the beginning of military exercises involving thousands of US and South Korean personnel in South Korea.

Pyongyang has characterized these exercises as invasion rehearsals, arguing that its weapons program is necessary for self-defense.

Publish : 2023-06-16 10:27:00

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