December 11, 2012
North Korea Surprises World, Launches Long-Range Rocket
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Despite requests by international governments, North Korea went ahead with plans and launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday, according to the South Korea Ministry of Defense.
A senior military official was quoted by South Korea's semi-official Yonhap press agency, confirming the rocket had been launched, and President Lee Myung-bak has ordered an emergency security meeting in Seoul.
According to a report by CNN, the launch took place at 9:45 a.m. local time and the rocket passed over the island of Okinawa.
Parts of the three-stage rocket, according to the report, came down in the sea off the Korean Peninsula, while another part landed near the Philippines.
North Korea had announced on Monday it was extending the launch window into late December due to a technical issue, taking nations by surprise with the go ahead of the rocket launch.
The Korean Central News Agency reported scientists and technicians "found technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket" on Monday.
The U.S. and South Korea, among other nations, have strongly urged North Korea not to go ahead with the launch. South Korea said it believes the launch is testing ballistic missile technology, while North Korea claims its purpose is for putting a satellite into orbit.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said in a press conference it is "extremely regrettable" North Korea went ahead with the launch, despite protests against it.
"It is not acceptable and we strongly protest against it," Fujimura told reporters at the conference, according to CNN.
Victor D. Cha and Ellen Kim wrote in a recent analysis posted on the Web site of the Center for Strategic and International Studies a successful test would raise security issues for the Obama administration.