DPRK's West Sea Satellite Launch Site on Google Map. (Xinhua/File Photo)
PYONGYANG, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday successfully launched and orbited a satellite, the official news agency KCNA reported.
"The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday," said the official KCNA news agency, adding that the satellite entered the pre-set orbit.
South Korea's Defense Ministry said the first stage of the rocket fell in the Yellow Sea off Byeonsan-bando in South Korea's North Jeolla Province.
The Japanese government said the rocket passed the southern island chain of Okinawa at around 10:01 a.m. (0101 GMT) local time and fell in waters off the Philippines shortly afterwards.
Shortly after the launch, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened a National Security Council meeting, and intelligence authorities were reportedly in consultations with their U.S. and Japanese counterparts to track the rocket.
The launch triggered protests in some countries.
Describing the launch as "regrettable" and "unacceptable," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at an emergency press conference that the launch threatened regional peace and stability and violated UN resolutions.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said his ministry has expressed protest through diplomatic channels to the DPRK and has asked the United Nations to adopt severe sanctions on the DPRK over the launch.
Japan has also requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.
However, as no debris of the launch fell into Japanese territory, Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto did not issue destruction order and no missile interceptors were launched.
Meanwhile, the White House said the launch by the DPRK was a "highly provocative" act that threatened regional security and violated UN resolutions.
China has called for restraint and vowed to maintain communication with all parties concerned, including the DPRK and the United States.
"We hope parties concerned can take a long-term perspective, deal with this calmly and appropriately, avoid taking actions that may further escalate the situation, and jointly maintain the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region as a whole," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular press briefing on Tuesday.
Wednesday's blast-off was the DPRK's second bid of the year and its fifth attempt since 1998 to launch a long-range rocket. Washington and some other countries claim that the launches were disguised ballistic missile tests and violated UN resolutions.
Pyongyang, whose attempt in April ended in failure, has countered that the satellite is for peaceful scientific purposes only and that it would abide by international regulations.
SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Wednesday it successfully fired off a long-range rocket mounted with a satellite, defying expectations that technical problems might delay or even call off the mission that has drawn international attention.
"The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday," the DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency said, adding the satellite entered orbit. Full story
TOKYO, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government said Wednesday that it will convene Security Council at 10:50 local time on a rocket launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Full story