North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket

Posted December 11th, 2012 at 10:55 pm (UTC-5)
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North Korea says it has succeeded in launching a long-range rocket and placing a satellite into orbit, defying warnings from the United Nations and its neighbors.

The official Korean Central News Agency said the Unha-3 rocket “successfully lifted off” from the Sohae Space Center on Wednesday and that the satellite “entered its orbit as planned.”

South Korean and Japanese defense officials confirmed that all three stages of rocket appear to have separated as scheduled. But they could not immediately say whether the device had been placed into orbit.

The U.S. State Department said that it “noted” the launch and was monitoring the situation.

Diplomats say the U.N. Security council will meet Wednesday to discuss the launch at the request of Washington and Tokyo. Both South Korea and Japan also called emergency meetings of their top security councils.

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.”