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US Condemns 'Highly Provocative' N. Korean Rocket Launch

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A screen shows the Unha-3 [Milky Way 3] rocket being launched from a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at North Korea's satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in this picture released by the official KCNA news a

A screen shows the Unha-3 [Milky Way 3] rocket being launched from a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at North Korea's satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in this picture released by the official KCNA news a

The United States has joined other governments in condemning North Korea's apparently successful long-range rocket launch, calling it a "highly provocative act" that threatens regional security.

Related - Defiant North Korea Carries Out 'Space Launch'

National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor said Wednesday's launch is in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions barring Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology.

Key dates in North Korea's nuclear and missile program:

  • August 1998: Test fires Taepodong-1, its first long-range rocket, over Japan as part of failed "satellite launch."
  • September 1999: Pledges to freeze long-range missile tests amid improving ties with U.S.
  • March, 2005: Ends moratorium on missile tests, blames "hostile" policy of U.S.
  • July 5, 2006: Test fires seven ballistic missiles, including long-range Taepodong-2, which fails less than a minute after launch.
  • July 15, 2006: U.N. Security Council adopts Resolution 1695, demanding Pyongyang halt missile program.
  • October 9, 2006: Conducts first underground nuclear test
  • October 15, 2006: U.N. Security Council adopts Resolution 1718 demanding halt to missile and nuclear tests, banning sale of weapons
  • April 5, 2009: Launches long-range rocket that lands in Pacific. Claims success, but U.S. says no satellite placed in orbit.
  • April 13, 2009: U.N. Security Council condemns launch, tightens sanctions. Pyongyang quits six-party nuclear talks.
  • May 2009: Conducts second underground nuclear test.
  • June 2009: Security Council passes Resolution 1874, imposing tougher sanctions.
  • February 2012: Announces moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile programs in exchange for U.S. food aid.
  • April 2012: Launches long-range rocket, which falls apart shortly after lift-off. Acknowledges failure.
He vowed the U.S. will remain "vigilant in the face of North Korean provocation and fully committed to the security of our allies in the region," saying Washington will work with the U.N. to pursue "appropriate action."

Washington's two main Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, also demanded further U.N. sanctions on the North. In Seoul, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan pledged North Korea would be “sternly held responsible” for violating United Nations resolutions that ban the country from launching such rockets.

Japan's Missile Defenses

Standard Missile 3 Interceptors
  • Ship launched missile
  • Used against short and intermediate range ballistic missiles
  • Cost per missile is $6 million to $9 million

Patriot Missile Interceptors
  • Launched from land-based mobile launchers
  • Used against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft
  • Cost per missile is $3.5 million
Japan immediately convened an emergency session of its security council to analyze the situation. Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Tokyo "cannot tolerate" the launch and has lodged a strong protest against North Korea.

Tokyo requested that the United Nations convene an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss new penalties.

Related - China Appeals for Calm After N. Korean Rocket Launch

China, North Korea's main ally and biggest trading partner, expressed "regret" at the launch. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said Pyongyang should observe "relevant" U.N. resolutions, but said any Security Council resolution should be "prudent and moderate."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the North for defying "unified and strong" calls from the international community. Ban said he is concerned about the negative consequences the launch will have on peace and stability in the region.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the move risks "further destabilizing the Korean peninsula," and called on North Korea to "fulfill their obligations under international law."

The European Union, meanwhile, threatened fresh sanctions against Pyongyang. Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement the EU is considering an "appropriate response," including possible "additional restrictive measures."

Russia's foreign ministry expressed "deep regret" over the move, saying it "flaunts the opinion of the international community."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague released a statement sharply criticizing the impoverished communist country for choosing to "prioritize this launch over improving the livelihood of its people."

Watch related video of North Korea's rocket launch

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