Missile Test? North Korea Successfully Launches ‘Earth Observation Satellite’

Skepticism is the order of the day as North Korea claims the successful launch of an earth observation satellite into orbit Sunday. While NORAD determined there was no threat from the missile to North America, the launch has been widely criticized as being provocative and in breach of U.N. resolutions.

The Inquisitr reported recently that fuel trucks had been deployed at the launch site in North Korea in what was alleged to be the launch of a satellite. On Sunday, the launch happened. The rocket reportedly took off at around 12:30 am GMT Sunday, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been tracking its flight path. The U.S. Strategic Command also noted and tracked the launch of the missile into space.

Some hours after the successful launch, North Korea announced it had placed a “newly developed earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 into orbit.” The satellite was reportedly launched aboard a “carrier rocket Kwangmyongsong” and was launched from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County.

As reported by CNN, the agency in North Korea said the satellite entered its preset orbit at 9:09 am Korean time, taking nine minutes and 46 seconds to reach its target.

According to North Korea, they are “legitimately exercising the right to use space for independent and peaceful purposes” and the country plans to send more satellites into space.

Naturally, South Korea is showing some skepticism about this action, saying the rocket “burned up” southwest of Jeju, the largest island located off the south coast of the Korean Peninsula. According to them, the missile “disappeared from radar” during the fairing separation stage.

However, in their prior warning to the U.N., North Korea said the first stage of the rocket had been planned to fall into the West Sea, and according to their military, no damage from the rocket “debris or other parts” was reported anywhere on South Korean territory.

According to Reuters, while North Korea did notify the International Maritime Organization (IMO) prior to the launch, claiming a launch window of between February 8 to February 25, the launch has caused international concern as what is feared to be a potential long-range missile test. Under U.N. Security Council resolutions, North Korea is banned from using ballistic missile technology.

While a senior U.S. defense official, who confirmed the launch, said the flight trajectory did not pose a threat to the U.S. or their allies, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice termed the launch a “serious threat” to American interests.

“North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs represent serious threats to our interests – including the security of some of our closest allies–and undermine peace and security in the broader region.”

The Chinese Defense Ministry criticized the rocket launch and claimed it was the second violation of U.N. resolutions in just over a month. According to a statement from the ministry, “The launch threatens the international system of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, leading to further deterioration of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

As reported by RT News, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that North Korea is acting against the norms of international law, saying it is obvious that such actions aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia as a whole. The ministry continued by saying the course of action chosen by Pyongyang can only prompt strong protest.

Japan had words on the situation too, with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately condemning the missile launch and telling reporters in a statement that “we absolutely cannot allow this.”

The prime minister continued by saying Japan will take action to totally protect the safety and well-being of their people.

The U.N. Security Council has called an emergency meeting, which will reportedly take place later on Sunday to discuss the situation and for their part, South Korean bodies have already convened emergency meetings.

The launch on Sunday is reportedly the sixth long-range missile test by North Korea, and in January the country claimed to have successfully tested a thermonuclear bomb. While most experts doubt the story of the nuclear device, this move caused the U.S. and its regional allies, South Korea and Japan to seek tougher U.N. sanctions against Kim Jong Un.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye reportedly termed Sunday’s launch an “unacceptable provocation” as he called on Washington to “take all necessary measures” in response to the threat.

The launch can be seen in the video included below.

[Photo via YouTube]