Photo by Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: This isn't going to help North Korea's attempts to force the international community to take its military might seriously.
The Associated Press reports that analysts have concluded that a half-dozen new missiles the reclusive nation showcased at a parade that followed its embarrassing failed rocket launch earlier this month were actually fakes. And pretty bad ones at that.
Experts noted that photos show that the rockets didn't fit in the launchers, were made of flimsy metal that would not be able to withstand flight, and mixed liquid and solid fuel parts that can't fly together.
Many observers have long believed that North Korea is trying to build a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States. Although, the nation's ability to do so remains very much in question.
Sunday, April 15: New North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave his first public speech Sunday, making it clear that despite the failed rocket launch, the country would continue prioritizing the military ahead of the economy, reports the Wall Street Journal. The military should be the country’s “first, second, and third” priority, Kim said during a 20-minute speech in which he never mentioned the failed launch.
The speech itself was perhaps more important than what he said as it marked a stark contrast from late leader Kim Jong Il, whose voice was only publicly heard once by the North Korean public, points out the Washington Post. It wasn’t just the speech itself that marked Kim’s different style, notes the BBC. The dictator who is believed to be in his late 20s remained in full public view during a huge military parade as cameras focused on him laughing and clapping with the senior officials who surrounded him.
In an illustration of his message that military strength would take priority over everything else, the huge military parade ended with the unveiling of a new long-range missile. Yet the Associated Press points out it’s not clear how significant it is as some analysts seem to think it could be a dummy designed to fool outsiders.
Saturday, April 14: The United States and its allies are keeping a close eye on the situation in North Korea, making it clear that the country’s humiliating failure to launch a rocket could lead to more provocation from the reclusive state. The White House has suspended a deal that would have provided a significant amount of food aid to North Korea, reports Reuters.
Analysts say the failure could be the first test of whether anyone will challenge young leader Kim Jong-un for power, and has led to speculation he would launch a third underground nuclear test to try to recover, reports the New York Times.
Friday, April 13: That probably wasn't worth it.
Despite international warnings, North Korea went ahead on Friday with its much-hyped satellite launch only to watch as the rocket broke up over the Yellow Sea and the satellite failed to reach orbit.
The Associated Press reports that North Korea usually denies failure in similar situations but this time, perhaps because of the international media presence invited to watch the launch, Pyongyang admitted that the satellite the rocket had been carrying did not make it into orbit. The country is nonetheless pushing ahead with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung's birth.
The United States condemned the launch, along with countries in the region, as CNN reports. The U.N. Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the failed launch.
Wednesday, April 11: North Korea on Wednesday began fueling the rocket that it plans to launch into space in the next week, despite international condemnation of the effort.
The Associated Press reports Pyongyang says it plans to use the rocket to put a satellite into orbit some time in a five-day window that begins Thursday. The launch is part of a 100th anniversary celebration of North Korean founder Kil Il Sung's birth.
South Korea and its western allies, however, say that the launch is simply a way for the reclusive nation to test a long-range missile, and the United States has warned that if it follows through with the launch, it will jeopardize a food aid deal between the two countries.
Western journalists, meanwhile, have been invited to the country, and the rocket launch site, as "part of a concerted effort by North Korea to convince its critics that the rocket program is for perfectly legitimate and peaceful purposes," writes the BBC’s Charles Scanlon.
The centennial will also mark Kim Jong-un's official ascension as the ruler of the country after the December death of his father Kim Jong-il. On Wednesday, Kim Jong-un was named the first secretary of the Workers' Party, which makes him the country's top political official.
Sunday, April 8: North Korea invited foreign journalists to watch as it finished moving all three stages of a long-range rocket into position, making it clear that it’s going ahead with the planned launch despite international condemnation, reports the Associated Press. Pyongyang has said it plans to launch a rocket to put a satellite into orbit between the 12th and 16th of April to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.
Inviting Western journalists to the launch site is “part of a concerted effort by North Korea to convince its critics that the rocket program is for perfectly legitimate and peaceful purposes,” writes the BBC’s Charles Scanlon. There’s widespread speculation the launch is an excuse to test a long-range missile.
Meanwhile, the South Korean news agency Yonhap hears word from an intelligence official that North Korea is getting ready to conduct its third nuclear test. Satellite images allegedly show the regime building a new underground tunnel in the same location where nuclear tests were carried out in 2006 and 2009. The New York Times points out that some in South Korea believe the government is leaking the news ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary elections in order to help the governing conservative party by emphasizing the threat from the North.