North Korea fired a long-range rocket and put a satellite into space Sunday morning, an act immediately condemned internationally. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
PYONGYANG, North Korea, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- North Korea fired a long-range rocket and placed a satellite into space Sunday morning, an act immediately condemned internationally.
North Korean state news agency KCNA announced a Kwangmyongsong carrier rocket blasted off from Sohae Space Center with a local 9 a.m. launch time. The rocket, carrying a Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite, entered orbit nine minutes and 46 seconds after launch.
The rocket launch was confirmed by U.S. Strategic Command spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell.
"Initial observations, available on the publicly-available website Space-Track.org, indicate these two objects -- NORAD catalog identification numbers 41332 and 41333 -- are at an inclination of 97.5 degrees," O'Donnell said, adding that the incident "did not pose a threat to the U.S. or our allies."
North Korea, officially named the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said the launch was for scientific and "peaceful purposes" -- also stating it plans to launch more satellites in the region. The launch was condemned by the United States, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, France, Britain and the European Union, who fear North Korea's intention is to test its ballistic-missile capability.
An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council will be held Sunday at 11 a.m. at U.N. headquarters in Manhattan to discuss a potential international response.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the launch is "deeply deplorable," adding it violates Security Council resolutions "despite the united plea of the international community against such an act."
"This is the second time in just over a month that the DPRK has chosen to conduct a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.
South Korea said it will begin discussing the deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in response to North Korea's actions.
China said it "regrets" North Korea's actions, but urged "relevant parties" to "refrain from taking actions that may further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula."