N Korea launches rocket; world upset

N Korea launches rocket; world upset

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday, carrying what it called a satellite but its neighbours and the United States denounced the launch as a missile test conducted in defiance of UN sanctions and just weeks after a nuclear bomb test.

North Korea’s embassy in Moscow said in a statement that the country would continue to launch rockets carrying satellites, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

The US Strategic Command said it had detected a missile entering space while South Korea’s military said the rocket has put an object into orbit.

North Korea said the launch of the satellite, “Kwangmyongsong-4”, named after late leader Kim Jong Il, was a “complete success” and it was making a polar orbit of earth every 94 minutes. In its previous long-range rocket launch in 2012, North Korea put what it called a communications satellite into orbit, but no signal has ever been detected from it.

The rocket lifted off at around 9:30 am Seoul time (6 am IST) on a southward trajectory, as planned. Japan’s Fuji Television Network showed a streak of light heading into the sky, taken from a camera at China’s border with North Korea.

‘Serious consequences’
The United Nations Security Council on Sunday condemned the rocket launch and vowed to take “significant measures” in response to Pyongyang’s violations of UN resolutions, Venezuela’s UN ambassador said. “The members of the Security Council strongly condemned this launch,” Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, president of the council this month, told reporters. He said the launch was “a serious violation of Security Council resolutions.” US Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters, “We will ensure that the Security Council imposes serious consequences.”

North Korea had notified UN agencies that it planned to launch a rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite, triggering opposition from governments that see it as a long-range missile test.

“If (North Korea) can communicate with the ‘Kwangmyongsong-4’, North Korea will learn about operating a satellite in space,” said David Wright, co-director and senior scientist at the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Even if not, it gained experience with launching and learned more about the reliability of its rocket systems.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the launch and urged North Korea to “halt its provocative actions”.

The UN Security Council, which met on Sunday at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea, condemned the violations committed by North Korea

“We have consensus to condemn this kind of violation of sanctions,” Venezuela’s Ambassador Rafael Ramirez, who holds the council presidency, said ahead of the closed-door talks.

Isolated North Korea had initially given a February 8-25 time frame for the launch but on Saturday changed that to February 7-14, apparently taking advantage of clear weather on Sunday.

The launch and the January 6 nuclear test are seen as efforts by the North’s young leader to bolster his domestic legitimacy ahead of a ruling party congress in May, the first since 1980.

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