North Korea fired a long-range rocket on Sunday, South Korea’s presidential office told AFP.
“The launch took place at 11:30:15” (0230 GMT plus 15 seconds), said spokeswoman Kim Eun-Hye, adding a statement denouncing the launch would be issued later.
The presidential palace said it was too early to say whether the launch had been a technical success.
The South Korean government said it regrets the “reckless” North Korean launch, according to a spokesman.
The rocket appears to have crossed over Japan and reached airspace over the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese government said in an email alert.
The rocket boosters have fallen into the water as expected, according to the Japanese government.
North Korea had said the rocket’s first stage would fall in the sea 75 kilometres (about 50 miles) west of Japan, and the second stage would plunge into the Pacific.
Japan did not try to intercept the rocket and there were no reports of damage or injuries in Japan from the launch, police said.
The US State Department confirmed North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile and called it a “provocative act.”
The North had said it intended to launch an experimental communications satellite — an exercise that critics said would be a disguised ballistic missile test.
Democrats ignored the diplomatic bungling of the Clinton Administration and held President Bush solely responsible for North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test, even though R&D had been ongoing for over a decade. It will be interesting to see if those same people are willing to lay the blame for today’s NORK missile launch squarely on Barack Obama, simply because he is the current occupant of the White House. I know, I know … I won’t be holding my breath.
UPDATE: NORAD says the test was a failure. The payload (whatever it was, most probably not a communications satellite) failed to achieve orbit and fell harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean.
Regarding my previous comment, I have no doubt that had a missile launch occurred before Jan. 20, 2009, the Left-wing blogosphere and punditry would have erupted in a unison chorus of “it’s all Bush’s fault” and “Bush’s diplomacy is a failure”. But faulting anyone over this incident seems to be largely irrelevant. We should rightly view this launch as a test meant to prick the finger of the world, then see how they respond.
It is ironic that this test coincides with President Obama’s call for a renewed worldwide commitment to ban nuclear weapons. The world is full of tin-pot dictators (and ubiquitous menaces like Russia) who are eagerly anticipating a decline in the economic and political power held by the West since World War II. Disarmament — and trust me, it will never be “multilateral” — is certainly the most expedient way to bring about that decline.
Michelle Malkin remembers Joe Biden’s prediction that President Obama would be tested by an international crisis early in his term.