North Korea Launches Rocket Amid International Condemnation
Defying warnings from the international community, North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Friday, but it appears to have broken apart shortly afterward, U.S. officials said.
North Korea on Friday launched its controversial rocket carrying a weather satellite, South Korea’s Defense Ministry and U.S. officials said.
A spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Seoul told reporters at a briefing that the launch at taken place at 0739 local time (2239 GMT) and that South Korea and the United States were checking whether it had been a success.
The launch has drawn international criticism and threats to shoot the rocket down as well as sabotaged a food aid deal with the United States.
The Unha-3 rocket took off from a new launch site on the west coast of North Korea, near the Chinese border, and if successful will enhance Pyongyang’s ability to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, critics say.
The three-stage rocket’s flight path will take it over the sea between the Korean peninsula and China, where the first stage is due to splash down. A second stage is due to land in waters off the Philippines.
The launch had been timed to coincide with the 100th birthday celebrations of the isolated and impoverished state’s founder, Kim Il-sung, and came after a food aid deal with the United States had hinted at an easing of tensions on the world’s most militarized border.