North Korea launched a long-range rocket Sunday carrying what it said was a satellite, in defiance of United Nations sanctions barring it from using ballistic missile technology.
“We have totally succeeded in launching the fourth Kwangmyongsong satellite,” North Korean state media said in a broadcast after the launch. It said the satellite reached its planned location in space in 9 minutes and 46 seconds.
A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Feb. 7, 2016. KCNA via Reuters
The United States and Japan condemned the launch as a thinly-veiled test of ballistic missile technology, and a provocation. North Korea has conducted four nuclear weapons tests, the latest of which was last month.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye called the launch “a real threat towards the international community.” The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Sunday morning, while South Korea said it was in talks with the U.S. to deploy a THAAD missile defense system.
The North Korean rocket was launched just before 9:30 a.m. Sunday Seoul time (7:30 p.m. ET), with South Korea and the U.S. tracking its flight, South Korean and U.S. military officials said.
U.S. Strategic Command said it tracked the missile at 7:29 p.m. ET traveling in a southern direction over the Yellow Sea. “At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to the United States or its allies,” U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.
The launch vehicle appears to have reached space, a U.S. Defense Department official said.
“The United States strongly condemns today’s missile launch by the DPRK — a flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions related to the DPRK use of ballistic missile technology,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. North Korea is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea had notified U.N. agencies that it planned to launch a rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite into space, triggering opposition from governments.
Intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads are launched into sub-orbital space to reach distant targets.
North Korean state media said the launch was overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un. The statement on state media said the device launched into orbit is for peaceful purposes.
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the launch “deeply deplorable.”
“The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the DPRK to halt its provocative actions and return to compliance with its international obligations,” Ki-moon’s spokesman said in a statement.
North Korea launched what it said was a satellite into orbit in 2012. North Korea is banned from conducting missile and nuclear tests, under the terms of U.N. sanctions imposed after a series of nuclear weapons tests.
“We will not tolerate North Korea going ahead with the launch after repeated warnings to restrain themselves,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
Abe promised Japan would stand with the international community to take “appropriate measures” in response.
North Korea sparked an international outcry last month when it conducted what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb test — which if true would represent a leap forward in technology. Experts and other nations have doubted the claim.
The isolated country has conducted nuclear tests in the past, most recently in 2013, but never tested a hydrogen bomb.
“This is the second time in just over a month that the DPRK has chosen to conduct a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well,” Kerry said.
North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 before the Jan. 6 test. Hydrogen weapons are typically much more powerful than atomic bombs like those used in World War II, and are more difficult to make.
North Korea and South Korea have technically been at war since the 1950s. An armistice established a cease fire between the two nations in 1953.