North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was’present’ at missile launch

April 6th, 2009 - 1:27 pm ICT by ANI  

Seoul, Apr.6 (ANI): North Korea said on Monday that its leader Kim Jong-il was present at Sunday’s controversial rocket launch and praised scientists after watching a satellite propelled into orbit.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Kim was briefed on preparations for the launch before observing the entire process from the command centre.

“Kim Jong-il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, visited the General Satellite Control and Command Centre to watch the process of launching the experimental communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 on Sunday,” the agency said.

According to The Telegraph, North Korea said it launched an experimental communications satellite as part of a peaceful space programme.

The US military has disputed the claim that a satellite made it into space, saying “the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean”.

But the United States and its allies have nevertheless reacted angrily to what they see as a provocative test of a long-range Taepodong-2 (Unha-2) missile.

The news agency said the three-stage rocket was launched at 11.20 a.m. local time, 10 minutes earlier than the time given by South Korea.

The KCNA said Kim, accompanied by party officials, met the scientists and technicians behind the launch and “warmly encouraged them” before having a photograph taken with them.

The North’s regime is seen as eager to give its people a scientific triumph to bolster support at a time of lingering uncertainty over the health of Kim Jong-il. (ANI)

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