Rocket failure a setback for Kim

, the North's leader, was poised to celebrate. AP
, the North's leader, was poised to celebrate. AP (Kim Jong Un)

The effort by the North's newest leader brought condemnation from other nations, humiliation for him.

Posted: April 14, 2012

PYONGYANG, North Korea - North Korea's much-touted satellite launch ended in a nearly $1 billion failure, bringing humiliation to the country's new young leader and condemnation from a host of nations. The U.N. Security Council deplored the launch but stopped short of imposing new penalties in response.

The satellite's disintegration Friday over the Yellow Sea brought a rare public acknowledgment of failure from Pyongyang, which had hailed the launch as a show of strength amid North Korea's economic hardship.

For the 20-something Kim Jong Un it was to have been a highlight of the celebratory events surrounding his ascension to top political power. It was timed to coincide with the country's biggest holiday in decades, the 100th birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, the young leader's grandfather.

The United States and South Korea declared the launch a failure minutes after the rocket shot out from the North's west coast. North Korea acknowledged its demise four hours later in an announcement broadcast on state TV.

The launch brought swift international condemnation, including the suspension of U.S. food aid, and raised concerns that the North's next move could be even more provocative - a nuclear test, the country's third.

The U.N. Security Council denounced the launch as a violation of two resolutions that prohibit North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile programs, and met behind closed doors to consider a response. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the current council president, refused to speculate on what action the council might take. The council imposed sanctions on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and stepped up sanctions after its second in 2009.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, called the launch "deplorable" and urged North Korea "not to undertake any further provocative actions that will heighten tension in the region," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Despite the failed launch, Pyongyang pressed ahead with grandiose propaganda in praise of the ruling Kim family.

Hours after the explosion, the young Kim was installed as the new head of the powerful National Defense Commission during a meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang. It was the last of the top military and party posts intended to consolidate his power after the death of his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, four months ago.

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