In a rare concession to reality, the North Korean regime has admitted that its rocket launch was not a complete and resounding success. "The Earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit," the state-run Korean Central News Agency admitted hours after the rocket fell apart within 90 seconds of launch. "Scientists, technicians, and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure." The dud is a major embarrassment for Pyongyang as it prepares to celebrate the centenary of Kim Il Sung's birth, notes the AP. Some reactions:
- The Obama administration called the launch a "provocative action," the Christian Science Monitor reports. Officials from Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan also condemned the launch, the New York Times adds.
- Mitt Romney took the opportunity to blast Obama as weak, notes Mike Allen at Politico. "Instead of approaching Pyongyang from a position of strength, President Obama sought to appease the regime with a food-aid deal that proved to be as naïve as it was short-lived," he said in a statement, which goes on to call the White House "incompetent" for cutting US missile defense.
- The US is now in a difficult position when it comes to negotiations with North Korea, Foreign Policy notes. If the Obama administration returns to the table, it could be seen as appeasing Pyongyang. But pressing for more sanctions won't be seen as effective. "There's no politically viable strategy that can solve the problem," concludes Josh Rogin.
- Reuters and NPR warn that after the embarrassment of admitting failure, North Korea is now expected to move forward with a third nuclear test or some other provocation to reassert its strength.