North Korea defies warnings and launches long-range rocket

 

North Korea fired a long-range rocket today in a second launch under its new leader, defying warnings from the UN and Washington.

North Korea declared the launch of a rocket and satellite a success, and state television planned a special broadcast about the launch.

South Korean and Japanese officials confirmed that lift-off took place. Along with the US, they had been urging Pyongyang to refrain from a launch widely seen as a cover for a test of banned ballistic missile technology.

South Korean defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a nationally televised news conference that a South Korean Aegis-equipped destroyer deployed in the Yellow Sea detected the launch but South Korea did not know if the launch was successful. North Korea had indicated technical problems with the rocket and recently extended its launch window to December 29.

Japan said one part of the rocket landed west of the Korean peninsula and another part was expected to have landed east of the Philippines. South Korean president Lee Myung-bak planned an emergency national security council meeting later, and Japan protested over the rocket launch.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took power after his father Kim Jong Il died on December 17 last year, and the launch came days before South Korean presidential elections and about a month before president Barack Obama is inaugurated for his second term.

The North said the Unha rocket was meant to put a satellite in orbit. A similar launch in April broke apart shortly after lift-off, and the condemnation that attempt received is likely to be repeated. Washington sees the launch as a cover for a test of technology for missiles that could be used to strike the United States.

Rocket tests are seen as crucial to advancing North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions. Pyongyang is thought to have a handful of rudimentary nuclear bombs, but is not yet believed to be capable of building warheads small enough to mount on a missile that could threaten the United States.

North Korea said it chose a safe flight path so debris would not endanger neighbouring countries, but there are still concerns over falling debris, and Japan's defence minister issued an order to missile units to prepare to intercept the rocket if it or its fragments threatened to hit Japan. Government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said later that no debris hit Japanese territory.

The first stage of the rocket was expected to fall in the Yellow Sea and the second stage in waters east of the Philippines, according to South Korea. Mr Fujimura described two confirmed debris sites in those general areas after the launch.

The White House condemned the launch as a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security".

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor calling it "another example of North Korea's pattern of irresponsible behaviour".

In a statement, Mr Vietor said the US "remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations", and will work with other nations and the UN Security Council "to pursue appropriate action" against North Korea.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Testing Manager

£30000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

£17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Consultant - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ope...

Recruitment Genius: Pricing & Purchasing Analyst

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest independent ...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash