The North American Aerospace Defense Command confirmed that North Korea launched a missile at 7:49 p.m. EST Tuesday. NORAD said the first stage of the missile fell into the Yellow Se and the second stage splashed into the Philippine Sea.
"Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit," a NORAD statement read. "At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America."
International condemnation of the launch was swift. The White House described the move as "provocative" while Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying that Beijing was urging world leader to "avoid taking actions that may further escalate the situation."
An April attempt at a rocket launch failed, though it was a violation of pledges made by Pyongyang to halt nuclear and missile tests. Launches in 2006 and 2009 coincided with North Korean nuclear tests.