A defiant North Korea has launched a long range rocket, and says it has successfully placed a satellite in orbit.
South Korean defense officials say the rocket was fired from a west coast launch site at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday local time. Japanese authorities said the missile overflew Okinawa about 12 minutes after liftoff, and said the Japanese military did not attempt to intercept it.
A short while later, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted defense officials saying the launch appears to have been a success. “The rocket stages fell on areas in line with its (Pyongyang’s) earlier announcement,” an official said.
Both South Korea and Japan called emergency meetings of their top security councils minutes after the launch.
In the runup to the launch, analysts described the rocket as a disguised ballistic missile, in violation of international regulations.
Pyongyang had vowed to proceed with the launch, despite bad weather and a series of technical difficulties.
North Korea is banned from carrying out any missile or nuclear-related tests by United Nations resolutions imposed in 2006 and 2009, after it conducted unsuccessful nuclear tests. A rocket launch in April also ended in failure.
The U.N. Security Council condemned the failed April launch and ordered foreign assets seized from several North Korean companies linked to financing and procuring weapons and missile technology.
Weeks after that launch, the United States responded by canceling a deal that would have provided the impoverished North with 240,000 metric tons of food.
North Korea on Monday extended the deadline for the rocket launch to December 29, after citing a “technical deficiency in the first stage control engine module of the rocket.”