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Defiant North Korea launches long-range rocket

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 12th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In clear defiance of threatened international sanctions, North Korea has launched a long-range rocket that many say is an important step to developing technology to deliver nuclear warheads. According to neighbor and longtime rival South Korea's, the launch appeared to have been a success, with all three stages performing as planned.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The launch of the second version of our Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite from the Sohae Space Center . on December 12 was successful," the official Korean Central News Agency said. "The satellite has entered the orbit as planned."

"The rocket stages fell on areas in line with its earlier announcement and the launch appears to be successful," the agency quoted military officials as saying.

The launch was also confirmed by the North American Aerospace Command, or NORAD. United States officials also confirmed the launch and that "an object" had achieved orbit following it.

The U.N. Security Council will meet to discuss the launch in defiance of threats of sanctions. "The Japanese and the Americans have requested a Security Council meeting, which will take place late on Wednesday morning" a western diplomat said.

The launch comes after an embarrassing failed attempt in April when a North Korean rocket fell apart just minutes after blast-off.

North Korea maintains that the launch is aimed merely at putting a weather satellite in orbit. North Korea has been banned from conducting missile and nuclear-related tests under U.N. sanctions imposed after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests. However, under new leader Kim Jong-un, the country's government has pledged to bolster its nuclear arsenal unless Washington scraps what Pyongyang calls a hostile policy.

"This could be called a missile test or it could be called the launch of a satellite," Richard Broinowski, a former Australian ambassador to South Korea says. He says it is important not to rush to conclusions regarding the intent of the launch.

"It's the same vehicle in both cases. And that's why I think there's a certain double standard here: when North Korea does this, it's obviously according to the United States, a missile test, but when South Korea or Japan launches their own missiles to put satellites in orbit, it is regarded as a peaceful demonstration of their technology," he said.

Tensions remain high between North and South. The Korean Peninsula remains technically at war, as the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce. The United States maintains nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea as a buttress against any North Korean aggression.

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