North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket
by Steve Herman December 11, 2012
Defying warnings from the United Nations and the United States, North Korea has carried out what it calls a “space launch” but what most of the international community regard as a provocative test of ballistic missile technology.
The three-stage liquid-fueled rocket lifted off the launch pad at Tochang-ri on North Korea's west coast at about 9:50 Wednesday morning.
Indications are that the first stage, as planned, dropped into the Yellow Sea while the second stage fell into waters east of the Philippines.
North Korea has deemed the launch from the Sohae Space Center a success.
In a special broadcast, the television announcer in Pyongyang says the
Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was placed into orbit after being shot into space on the Unha-3 rocket. She says this is the second successful satellite launch for the country.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command says “initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.”
North Korea failed in long-range launches in 2006, 2009 and in April of this year.
The Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, says this latest launch was actually a disguised ballistic missile test and it flew over Japan's southern Okinawan islands.
The government spokesman in Tokyo says the launch is extremely regrettable and unacceptable. He says Japan will be making the strongest possible protest to North Korea.
Japanese officials say none of their anti-missile batteries, which had been deployed in anticipation of the launch, fired at the North Korean rocket and no debris fell on Japan.
Leaders in both Tokyo and Seoul quickly convened emergency national security meetings.
Japan is asking for the United Nations Security Council to convene.
South Korea's government says it will respond in coordination with the international community.
South Korea's defense ministry spokesman, Kim Min-seok, tells reporters there was no evidence, as was reported elsewhere that a stage of the rocket, had been removed for repairs.
Kim says South Korea had been monitoring an expected launch since yesterday and it was spotted in real time by three of the Navy's destroyers equipped with the advanced Aegis combat system that tracks aerial targets.
North Korea is prohibited under previous U.N. resolutions from carrying out such launches as the technology can be used for ballistic missiles.
North Korea is believed to have several nuclear weapons and there is fear in the international community that its work with space technology will allow it to eventually develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear weapon.
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