Korea Launch Signals Troubling Progress

Experts believe 'satellite' failure was moderately successful missile test
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2009 6:28 AM CDT
Defectors from North Korea and conservative activists release balloons with leaflets condemning North Korea's rocket launch in South Korea, Monday, April 6, 2009.    (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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(Newser) – North Korea's weekend rocket launch failed in the third stage, and its payload—be it friendly satellite or naked nuclear ambition—lies at the bottom of the Pacific, but the test shows alarming progress, experts tell the Los Angeles Times. Analysts dismiss North Korea's claims that a satellite made it into orbit, but believe the test of a multistage rocket will draw notice from the likes of Iran, Syria, and Pakistan.

"North Korea will still be looked upon as a supplier of reasonably good missiles, and the pariah state leader in technology on missiles," says a nuclear weapons expert. The rocket—despite obvious quality control problems—appears to have successfully gone through its first two stages, unlike a 2006 launch that failed within 40 seconds. "It is a huge technical leap for them," says another expert.