North Korea’s official news agency said a carrier rocket has delivered into orbit the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite on Wednesday.
“On December 12, the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was successfully launched atop the Unha-3 rocket from the Sohae Space Center,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. “The satellite has reached the designated orbit.”
The launch was carried out at around 09:50 local time (04:50 Moscow time).
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) also confirmed the launch on its website, noting that “US missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of a North Korean missile at 7:49 p.m. EST.”
NORAD added that the rocket appeared to deploy “an object” which achieved orbit, according to its website.
The Japanese government said the rocket passed over Okinawa, but the Japanese military did not intercept it.
According to Japanese authorities, the debris from the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea about 200 km west of the Korean peninsula, while the second stage separated above the East China Sea. The third stage fell some 300 km off the Philippines’ eastern coast in the Pacific.
The launch has already been condemned by several countries, including the UK and Japan.
“The Japanese government is convinced that the launch by North Korea violates peace in the region that includes our country… The launch was carried out [despite the global community’s objections] and arouses great concern. Japan considers it inadmissible and expresses its strong objections,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.
The Kyodo news agency reported that Japan will seek an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the issue as soon as possible.
The US Department of State said it had registered the launch and would continue to monitor situation in the region.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement he “strongly condemned” the launch.
“I deplore the fact that the DPRK has chosen to prioritize this launch over improving the livelihood of its people. We will be summoning the DPRK Ambassador to the UK to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” Hague said in a statement.
Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for the UN secretary general, said Ban Ki-moon was informed about the launch and will make his state on the issue soon.
Pyongyang alarmed the international community when it announced earlier this month that it would attempt another rocket launch. An attempted launch last April ended in failure, when the rocket exploded shortly after take-off.
North Korea claims its new rocket was intended for putting a satellite into outer space, but the international community has widely condemned what it believes to be the development and testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) intended to carry nuclear warheads.