UN Security Council Summons Emergency Meeting Over North Korean Rocket Launch
North Korea launched a satellite into space Sunday, its state media reported, triggering a wave of international condemnation and prompting the United States, South Korea and Japan to call for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
Though North Korea said the launch was for scientific and “peaceful purposes,” it is being widely viewed by other nations as a front to test a ballistic missile, especially coming on the heels of North Korea’s purported hydrogen bomb test last month.
Pyongyang carried out both acts in defiance of international sanctions.
An emergency Security Council meeting will be convened Sunday at 11 a.m. in New York to discuss a potential international response.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the launch is “deeply deplorable” and in violation of Security Council resolutions “despite the united plea of the international community against such an act.”
The Kwangmyongsong carrier rocket blasted off from the Sohae launch facility at 9 a.m Sunday (7:30 p.m. Saturday ET), entering orbit 9 minutes and 46 seconds after liftoff, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA reported.
A state TV newsreader said that the launch had been personally ordered and directed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — who was pictured smiling in official photographs as he oversaw the launch — and that more satellite launches were planned.
A senior U.S. defense official said the rocket headed toward space and, based on its trajectory over the Yellow Sea, “did not pose a threat to the U.S. or our allies.”
At least two new objects have been detected in Earth’s orbit and are being tracked, a spokesman for U.S. Strategic Command told CNN on Sunday. The objects appeared to be the satellite and the final stage of the rocket booster, said arms control expert David Wright, co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program.
South Korea retrieved a piece of debris believed to be a part of the missile Sunday morning, a Defense Ministry official told CNN. The object was recovered from the ocean by a South Korean navy vessel and is being analyzed, the official said.
Japan’s analysis of the launch indicated parts of the rocket fell in four locations offshore after takeoff, the Japanese Prime Minister’s office said via Twitter.
A South Korean lawmaker said Sunday that intelligence on the launch suggested that it had likely been timed to coincide with the NFL Super Bowl and Chinese New Year, in order to maximize international media impact.
“The date of the launch appears to be in consideration of the weather condition and ahead of the Lunar New Year and the U.S. Super Bowl,” said Jo Ho-young, chairman of the South Korean National Assembly Intelligence Committee.
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