(Associated Press)

North Korea launches long-range rocket

North Korea has launched its second long-range rocket of 2012


Allison Jackson
December 12, 2012 9:03PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

Global Post North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday in defiance of international criticism, Agence France-Presse reported.

"It [the rocket] has been launched,'' a spokesman for the South Korean defense ministry told AFP.

North Korea said a satellite had successfully been put into orbit in space, a claim US military officials said appeared to be true.

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The rocket had followed its planned trajectory, with stages falling in expected areas, the BBC wrote.

The White House, which is concerned the launch is covering for ballistic missile activity, denounced the move as a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security," said the AP.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government quickly requested a special UN Security Council meeting to discuss the launch, according to the Associated Press.

The isolated Stalinist state launched the long-range rocket — its second this year — close to the one-year anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong Il and ahead of December elections in Japan and South Korea.

Pyongyang had said that launch was aimed at putting a satellite into space. The April missile fizzled within minutes of blast-off.

North Korea was reportedly considering delaying the controversial rocket launch, which has been condemned by the international community.

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Japan, which is due to hold general elections on Dec.16, had threatened to shoot down the missile if it went off course into Japanese airspace. Bloomberg created an image here that traces the rocket's potential flight path.

Russia, the United States, and other nations had also spoken out against the satellite launch, calling it a cover for ballistic missile technology tests.

Sky News reported that South Korea's president, Lee Myung-Bak, has called an emergency security meeting following the launch, and Reuters reported that Japanese security forces were doing the same.

From Seoul, GlobalPost correspondent Geoffrey Cain said: "For most South Koreans who are accustomed to the North's sporadic brinkmanship, the rocket launch raised eyebrows and then became a non-event."

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"Of course it's regrettable," one high-ranking infantry commander in Uijeongbu, an army base town north of Seoul, told Cain, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

"But we've become familiar with this thing from the North. Every few months or years they do something bad to us, but we just live with it and get on with our lives, and hope they'll get sensible on day."

“Rocket and nuclear tests are targeting Americans,” said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Kookmin University. “The South Korean public assumes that nuclear weapons are not going to be used against South Koreans, because they are fellow Koreans.”

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About half of South Korea's entire population lives within the shooting range of some 300 North Korean artillery pieces that constitute a more immediate threat, Lankov said. In 2008, South Korea halted its assistance to North Korea. Since then, relations have fallen to a nadir as the DPRK has pursued what Lankov called brinkmanship as a strategy for extracting money.


Allison Jackson

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