TOKYO — North Korea fired a rocket carrying a spy satellite on Wednesday, but the launch failed due to engine trouble, its official Korean Central News Agency said.
The 6:27 a.m. firing came on the first day of a launch window announced by North Korea for its first "military reconnaissance satellite," with the country vowing to conduct a second launch "as soon as possible" after the failure, according to KCNA.
The projectile fired from a location near Tongchang-ri, northwestern North Korea, did not travel the planned distance announced by Pyongyang, a Japanese government source said, while the South Korean military said it fell about 200 kilometers from South Korea's Eocheong Island in the Yellow Sea.
According to KCNA, the rocket carrying the spy satellite experienced an abnormal firing of its second-stage engine and lost propulsion.
The firing of the projectile came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un instructed his country's space agency to make final preparations for the launch of Pyongyang's first military reconnaissance satellite.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Tokyo the government was collecting and analyzing information about the launch and there were no reports of damage from the projectile.
The Japanese government lodged a protest with North Korea over the launch, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference.
Pyongyang notified the Japan Coast Guard of three maritime danger zones in which objects could land during the launch period between Wednesday and June 11, with two areas to the west of the Korean Peninsula and one to the east of the Philippines. All of the areas are outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone.
On Monday, Ri Pyong Chol, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea, said the North's military reconnaissance satellite was "indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts of the US and its vassal forces."
Noting "the reckless military acts" of the United States and South Korea, "We steadily feel the need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons," Ri said.
Emphasizing that Japan considers the launching of a rocket carrying a satellite as equivalent to a ballistic missile test on the basis of historical precedent, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had warned that following through on the plan would violate UN Security Council resolutions.
Sanctions have been imposed on North Korea for its weapons-related activities based on the UN resolutions.
Pyongyang, which launched missiles a record 37 times last year, has continued firing ballistic missiles this year, with fears mounting that the country may be preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test in the near future.