In a move that challenged the warnings of the United States and its allies, North Korea on Wednesday fired a long-range rocket carrying a satellite, prompting words of protests from nations across the world. Pyongyang’s state-controlled media said the launch was a success.
It was the second rocket launch under North Korea’s new and young leader and an obvious indication that the rogue nation has expedited its efforts to push forward with its expedition to build up the missile and technological knowhow required to fire a nuclear weapon.
The rocket, named Unha-3, was reportedly fired from the Donchang-ri site in North Pyongan at 9.49am local time. The launch surprised the international community because speculations had it that the project would be deferred by some days. Reports suggest that the North’s technical team fixed what had been stated as a "technical deficiency" in the rocket's first-stage control engine unit.
Meanwhile analysts have said that it was too early to corroborate Pyongyang’s report, arguing that the North has in the past proclaimed successful rocket launches when global tracking systems proved the claims false.
Analysts think that if Pyongyang succeeded in placing a satellite into orbit, it would signify a very important progress in its long endeavors to come up with a long range ballistic missile capable of reaching the US, presenting new challenge for the Obama Administration.
"It would be absolutely illogical for them not to do it," said Daniel Pinkston, deputy project director of the North East Asia programme at the International Crisis Group, according to the Guardian. "They have invested tremendous amounts of resources in this over decades. They want to possess the capabilities: this is dual use technology with both military and peaceful applications. They are supposed to be a strong and prosperous and powerful country ... this is what you do."
Japan protested the launch and called for emergency meeting of the UN body to discuss its response. Tokyo also claimed that a piece of the rocket plunged to the ground west of the Korean Peninsula. The Philippines also protested, saying another part of the rocket landed 186 miles east of the Philippines.
In Washington, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, protested Pyongyang’s move, saying it demonstrates that a disobedient North Korea is moving closer towards its mission of developing a nuclear ballistic missile.
Britain's foreign secretary,, also protested against the North Korean launch and said the UK government would summon the North Korean ambassador in London. Canada also joined other nations in condemning the launch.
South Korea's president, Lee Myung-bak, reportedly convened an emergency security meeting after Pyongyang’s rocket launch.