AsianScientist (Dec. 12, 2012) – North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday, putting fear into its neighbors that the isolated state could someday launch a nuclear missile against its opponents.
“The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday,” said the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
“The satellite entered its preset orbit,” said a statement on its website.
The rocket was launched at 10 AM KST, and it passed Japan’s Okinawa at around 10:01 AM local time. Okinawan self-defense forces did not launch their missile interceptors.
Today’s launch was much more successful than the April launch that ended in failure. On April 12 this year, North Korea launched its Unha-3 rocket that was to place the 220-pound Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite into polar orbit.
The April launch was to coincide with the centenary celebrations of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 1948, and the grandfather of its current ruler, Kim Jong-un.
Just a day before the April launch, the head of North Korea’s satellite control center, Paek Chang-ho, told journalists: “We do not really care about the opinions from the outside. This is critical in order to develop our national economy.”
Previous launches by North Korea’s space program in 1998, 2006, 2009, and 2012 have all met with failure. It conducted its first nuclear test on October 9, 2006 and the second one on May 25, 2009, prompting the United Nations Security Council to stiffen sanctions that it originally imposed in 2006 after the North’s first nuclear test.
But the state appears to have continued its nuclear and missile-related technology program that began under Kim Jong-il, undeterred by a UN resolution that bans such research.
The White House condemned Wednesday’s launch as a breach of UN rules, issuing a statement:
“The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences.”
Japan’s envoy to the UN has called for a Security Council meeting, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the DPRK missile launch.
“The Secretary-General deplores the rocket launch announced by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea),” Ban’s spokesman said in a statement.
“It is a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1874, in which the Council demanded that the DPRK not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology,” the statement said.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: KCNA.
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