North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket, ignoring numerous warnings of the world leaders as the regime of Kim Jong Un is on its way to developing the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead.
The United States, South Korea and Japan quickly criticized the launch, which appeared to be a surprise after Pyongyang had previously reported of technical problems and of possible delay of the launch.
It was an even great surprise after Pyongyang did succeed after several failed attempts on Wednesday.
South Korean and Japanese leaders conducted emergency meetings soon after the rocket was fired to be reportedly blasted off from a launch base in western North Korea. It even flew over the island of Okinawa, before falling into waters on the territory of the Philippines.
In a statement, the Japanese government said: “Launch time was around 9:49 am (0049 GMT). The missile that North Korea calls a satellite passed over Okinawa around 10:01. We launched no interception.”
North Korea’s KCNA news agency otherwise insisted that the launch, from North Korea’s Sohae Space Centre, had been a success while South Korea’s Yanhop confirmed the rocket appeared to have followed its planned trajectory, reports The Telegraph.
“The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday,” KCNA announced. “The satellite has entered the orbit as planned.”
The launch – which had been officially scheduled for sometime between December 10 and 29 – faced widespread condemnation.
“It is extremely regrettable that North Korea went through with the launch despite our calls to exercise restraint,” Japan’s chief government spokesman Osamu Fujimura told reporters. “Our country cannot tolerate this. We strongly protest to North Korea.”
William Hague, the foreign secretary, said in a statement: “This provocative act will increase tensions in the region.”
“I strongly condemn the DPRK’s satellite launch today. I deplore the fact that the DPRK has chosen to prioritize this launch over improving the livelihood of its people.”
Mr Hague went on, adding: “It is essential that the DPRK refrain from further provocative action.”
The US officials condemned the launch, claiming that it’s a “highly provocative act that threatens regional security”.
“The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and fully committed to the security of our allies in the region,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, adding that Washington would increase close cooperation with its friends in the region.
“In the hours and days ahead, the United States will work with its six-party partners, the United Nations Security Council and other UN member states to pursue appropriate action,” Mr Vietor said.
“The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences.”
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, also commented on the issue, warning that the launch could negatively impact prospects for peace and security in the region.
“The Secretary-General deplores the rocket launch announced by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea),” Mr Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.
“It is a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1874, in which the Council demanded that the DPRK not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology,” the statement read.