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International Community Considers Response to N. Korean Rocket Launch


Unha-3 rocket lifts off from a launch site on the west coast, in the village of Tongchang-ri, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the Chinese border city of Dandong, North Korea, Dec. 12, 2012.

Unha-3 rocket lifts off from a launch site on the west coast, in the village of Tongchang-ri, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the Chinese border city of Dandong, North Korea, Dec. 12, 2012.

It is still not clear if the satellite North Korea placed into orbit Wednesday is properly functioning. Meanwhile, the international community is still contemplating what action to take against the isolated and impoverished state, which conducted the
launch in defiance of previous United Nations resolutions.

South Korea has announced no immediate additional measures against the North as a result of what Seoul considers a test of ballistic missile technology.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters Thursday the launch was a grave challenge to international peace.

Cho said North Korea disregarded previous U.N. Security Council resolutions and that South Korea thinks there must be harsher measures than those enacted following the North's previous failed launch in April.

The Security Council issued a statement calling it a clear violation of its previous resolutions prohibiting North Korea from activities that could help it develop ballistic missiles.

It is unclear whether any new U.N. resolution will follow that would include additional punishment on Pyongyang.

North Korea claims the launch of a three-stage liquid-fueled rocket was a peaceful use of space to deploy an "earth survey satellite."

The United States has also given no indication what additional punitive actions it is contemplating. Media reports prior to the launch suggested an American-led effort to further restrict North Korea's access to the international banking system.

Wednesday's launch came just a week before South Korea heads to the polls to choose a new president.

The front-runner, conservative Park Geun-hye of the Saenuri Party, accuses Pyongyang of trying to influence the election by carrying out the provocative launch.

Speaking at a campaign rally, Park said North Korea is trying to test the South Korean people. She calls on the electorate to choose a candidate with a strong view on national security.

Park's main opponent, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party, says the North Korean launch demonstrates the failures of the conservatives.

Moon said the government's inability to figure out whether or not the North Korean missile was even on the launch pad shows its incompetence when it comes to national security.

President Lee Myung-bak is a member of the Saenuri Party. He is limited to a single five-year term.

However, analysts foresee the North Korean launch having a minimal impact in next Wednesday's election. Park maintains a narrow lead over Moon in the final public opinion polls released this week.

The two Koreas have no diplomatic or significant trade ties. They technically remain at war, because no peace treaty was signed after their devastating three-year civil conflict fought to a draw in the early 1950's.

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