‘Useless’: N. Korean satellite ‘tumbling in orbit,’ U.S. official says

Special to WorldTribune.com

North Korea’s recently-launched satellite is “tumbling in orbit,” rendering it virtually “useless,” a U.S. official said.

If the description is accurate, the satellite launched by Pyongyang on Feb. 7 would be incapable of functioning in any useful way, a senior U.S. defense official told CNN.

rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site. /Reuters/Kyodo
Rocket launched from North Korea’s Sohae site. /Reuters/Kyodo

Kwon Ki-hyun, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Ministry of Defense, told NK News that the satellite is “in orbit but we need to see more to judge whether it is operating normally while there’s no signal detected.”

Martyn Williams of North Korea Tech told NK News there was no confirmation as to whether or not the satellite was broadcasting any signals.

“The only way to verify that is with optical observation and I’m not aware that any amateurs have done that yet,” Williams said.

The launch, which North Korea maintains was for “peaceful purposes,” was viewed by the Untied States as a front for Pyongyang to test a ballistic missile as it closely followed last month’s reported nuclear test.

Yoon Dong-Hyun, vice director of the North Korea Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, said other countries’ efforts to block Pyongyang’s aerospace advances were “nothing more than a puppy barking towards the moon.”

Jo Ho-young, chairman of the South Korean National Assembly Intelligence Committee, said the North Korea chose Feb. 7 as the date of the launch to garner the highest media impact possible.

“The date of the launch appears to be in consideration of the weather conditions and ahead of the (Chinese) Lunar New Year and the U.S. Super Bowl.”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye called the launch a “challenge to world peace,” while announcing Seoul would begin talks with the U.S. to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system which can intercept missiles in flight.

A U.S. defense official told CNN the THAAD system could be deployed to South Korea within weeks and that talks on the deployment were accelerated in response to the North Korea launch.