Sunday, 7 February 2016
North Korea fires long-range rocket despite warnings
North Korea has fired a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.
A state TV announcer said that North Korea had successfully placed a satellite in orbit.
The launch was condemned by Japan, South Korea and the US, who have requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council later on Sunday.
South Korea says it is to begin discussing with the US the deployment of a missile defence system.
Senior defence official Ryu Je-Seung said if the THAAD missile system - considered one of the most advanced in the world - were deployed it would be only to counter the threat from the North.
In a statement, the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration said earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 had entered orbit about 10 minutes after lift-off from the Sohae space centre in North Phyongan province.
Announcing the launch on state TV, a newsreader said it had been ordered by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and said the country planned to launch more satellites in the future.
"The fascinating vapour of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star,'' was how the launch was described.
South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said a warship had detected the launch at 09:31 (00:31 GMT).
North Korea satellite launch - world reaction
The rocket launch was roundly condemned by the international community. US Secretary of State John Kerry called it a "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions and warned of "significant measures to hold the DPRK [North Korea] to account."
China said it "regrets" North Korea's actions but urged "the relevant parties" to "refrain from taking actions that may further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula".
Contenders for the Republican ticket in the US presidential election this year were asked for their reaction during a debate in New Hampshire . Donald Trump said China was the key. "I would get on with China. Let China solve that problem."
UN Security Council resolutions ban the state from carrying out any nuclear or ballistic missile tests.
The North insists its space programme is purely scientific in nature but the US, South Korea and even ally China say the rocket launches are aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of striking the US.
North Korea provoked international criticism earlier this year with a fourth nuclear bomb test on 6 January.
South Korean analysts had speculated that the North might carry out the launch ahead of 16 February, the birthday of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.
North Korea's rocket launches
February 2016: Launch of rocket reportedly carrying satellite
May 2015: North Korea announces it has
successfully tested a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but scepticism is then poured on the claim
Dec 2012: North Korea launches three-stage rocket, says it successfully put a satellite into orbit; US defence officials confirm object in orbit
Apr 2012: Three-stage rocket explodes just after take-off, falls into sea
Apr 2009: Three-stage rocket launched; North Korea says it was a success, US says it failed and fell into the sea
Jul 2006: North Korea test-fires a long-range Taepodong-2 missile; US said it failed shortly after take-off