'Iranian officials observed N Korea rocket launch'
Seoul: Iranian officials witnessed the failed rocket test in North Korea last week, a report on Monday said.
A “diplomatic source” informed South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that 12 Iranian officials from the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) were in North Korea to observe the launch. The SHIG is the organisation responsible for Iran's ballistic missile programs.
“On March 31, 12 Iranians of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) arrived in North Korea,” Yonhap quoted its source as saying.
“The Iranians undoubtedly were there to observe the missile launch and receive test data from North Korea.”
A North Korean satellite, which South Korea calls a "ballistic missile", failed to enter orbit after its launch on Friday morning.
South Korea said on Friday that North Korea will have to "take responsibility" for the alleged failed long-range rocket launch, which breached a UN ban.
The 90-tonne Unha-3 rocket was launched at 7.39 am from the Tongchang-ri launch site but broke into some 20 pieces and fell into sea one or two minutes after the lift-off, according to the South Korean Defence Ministry.
Describing the launch as "a ballistic missile test" and a "serious threat", the South Korean Defence Ministry said the broken pieces landed in waters some 100 to 150 km off South Korea's western port city of Gunsan.
South Korea and Japan had vowed to shoot down the three-staged rocket or parts of it if they fell within their territory, prompting North Korea to warn of "merciless punishment", but the debris fell in international waters.
Pyongyang has said the launch of a rocket-mounted satellite is to mark the birth centennial April 15 of the country's founding father Kim Il-sung.