News / Asia

Defiant North Korea Carries Out 'Space Launch'

South Koreans watch a television report on North Korea's rocket launch at Seoul railway station in Seoul, December 12, 2012.
South Koreans watch a television report on North Korea's rocket launch at Seoul railway station in Seoul, December 12, 2012.
North Korea has carried out what it characterizes as a “groundbreaking” peaceful launch to place a weather satellite into orbit, despite warnings from the United Nations and the United States. The event is being viewed by most of the world as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Seoul, Tokyo, Washington and the United Nations quickly condemned the Wednesday morning launch.

Leaders in Japan and South Korea convened emergency national security meetings.

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.
South Korea's foreign minister, Kim Sung-hwan, criticized Pyongyang for ignoring repeated warnings and requests to cancel the launch.

The foreign minister says this action will further isolate North Korea from the international community and the country should instead use the immense financial resources spent on nuclear and missile development “to solve the desperate lives of its people.”

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda called the North Korean launch totally unacceptable and regrettable.

Noda says he urges the public to stay calm and assures the Japanese people there will be a stern response by his government, in cooperation with the international community.

Japanese officials say none of their anti-missile batteries, which had been deployed in anticipation of the launch, fired at the North Korean rocket and no debris fell on Japan.

A statement from the U.S. National Security Council says “given this current threat to regional security, the United States will strengthen and increase” its close coordination with its allies and partners.

Related - US Condemns N. Korean Rocket Launch
 
The North American Aerospace Defense Command says “initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.”

North Korea, in a special noon-time television broadcast, hailed the success of the launch from the Sohae Space Center.

The announcer, appearing in a pink hanbok traditional dress, says the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was placed into orbit after being shot into space on the Unha-3 rocket.

Trajectory paths of the UNHA-2 and UNHA-3 rockets near North Korea (CLICK TO ENLARGE)Trajectory paths of the UNHA-2 and UNHA-3 rockets near North Korea (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
x
Trajectory paths of the UNHA-2 and UNHA-3 rockets near North Korea (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Trajectory paths of the UNHA-2 and UNHA-3 rockets near North Korea (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
North Korea's news agency later gave further details, saying the satellite, orbiting between 500 and 584 kilometers above the Earth, helps mark the 100th birth anniversary of the country's founding leader, Kim Il Sung.

North Korea is prohibited under previous U.N. resolutions from carrying out such launches as the technology can be used for ballistic missiles.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, called the launch a clear violation of those resolutions and said he is concerned this provocation will have negative consequences for “peace and stability in the region.”

The United Nations Security Council convenes Wednesday to discuss the launch.

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

North Korea is believed to have several nuclear weapons and there is concern in the international community that its space technology will allow it to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear weapon.

Even if North Korea never gets that far, aerospace researcher Charles Vick,  the senior technical analyst for Global Security.org, says the isolated and impoverished country is now in the exclusive league of nations that have successfully conducted their own space launches.

“The Unha 3 launch vehicle certainly introduces them into the club, and it also at the same time represents a major issue of technology transfer and what is it actually going to be utilized in the long-run? So far this mission was for a scientific technology kind of demonstration, now let's see what follows,” he said.

And North Korea has achieved something its rival and vastly more affluent neighbor has failed to accomplish. South Korea, with some Russian technology, tried to launch a satellite from its own soil in 2009 and 2010. But both attempts were failures. Another try was made in November but was aborted just minutes before the scheduled lift-off due to a malfunction.

The next South Korean launch attempt is not expected until next year.

Youmi Kim in the VOA Seoul bureau contributed to this report. 

  • Youths play instruments in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theater to celebrate the rocket launch, Pyongyang, North Korea, December 12, 2012.
  • Youths dance in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theater in Pyongyang, North Korea, December 12, 2012.
  • A North Korean dances to music in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theater, December 12, 2012.
  • South Korean religious leaders raise placards and shout slogans during a rally denouncing North Korea's rocket launch, Seoul, South Korea, December 12, 2012.
  • South Korean protesters burn a mock rocket as police officers spray fire extinguishers during a rally denouncing North Korea's rocket launch, Seoul, South Korea, December 12, 2012.
  • A South Korean protester shouts slogans during a rally denouncing North Korea's rocket launch, Seoul, South Korea, December 12, 2012.
  • South Korean man uses his smartphone to take a photo of television screen reporting news about North Korea's rocket launch at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 12, 2012.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anderson from: United States
December 12, 2012 11:12 PM
North Korea is the worst country on the planet. By far. And nobody should be scared of them. They will just end up blowing themselves up with their Stevie Wonder guidance systems. You know some other country has to be helping them. No country ever goes from foundation to building houses to space launch, Then finally get to providing enough food for the country.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
December 12, 2012 3:12 PM
This N Korean demonstration will set a new defensive arms race in Asia. More importantly, it changes the equation in the Middle East; for all intensive purposes Iran,one of the biggest customers of N Korean missile technology, now has an inter-continental launch capability available off the shelf.
No question that this new demonstrated capability of N Korea, will increase difficulties in arms control treaties and complicate future negotiations wrt NK arms proliferation.

by: Mpo from: Africa
December 12, 2012 11:19 AM
It is nice to read that North korea doesn't submit to bullies and hegemonic nations.

by: mhee from: Philippines
December 12, 2012 7:38 AM
DEBRIS WERE FALL IN THE PHILIPPINE SEA BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE ROCKET LAUNCH BY THIS COMMUNIST NORTH KOREA AND I WONDER WHY IT SEEMS PHIL. GOV'T HAS NO REACTION, i dunno

by: Abhishek from: India
December 12, 2012 2:56 AM
Every country has right to make advances to achieve perfection in science and technology. North Korea launched a satellite and not a WMD. However what went wrong is that the same was done by misleading the world. Yesterday itself, it was announced by NK that the launch will be postponed upto 28-29 December but instead launched it under a complete shroud of mystery.

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
December 11, 2012 11:45 PM
west just keep lying as usual. North Korea successfully launched a satellite which can be easily observed with normal radar or telescope. Father more, this satellite is broadcasting two songs. I believe most of people can receive the songs if they know the frequency. US keep lying like it did in Iraq about the WMD.
Funny, south Korea failed their launch however the North Korea counterpart succeed.
In Response

by: Kenelm from: China
December 12, 2012 7:35 AM
First of all, I take a pride in North Korea people, they have proved that North Korea people are honorable and outstanding nation by their action compared with some other country. However, we should know that north korea has a such deep and serious economic problem that a majority of north korea people dont have adequate or ample food and clothing, in my opinion, north korea should pay more attention on these instead of nuclear weapon or satellite. Of course ,we cant deny the north korea people's great achievement at the same time. Finely, best wishes to lovely and honored north korea people and all of the people who love peace in the world.
In Response

by: DT from: United States
December 12, 2012 3:57 AM
Granted, Iraq was absolute BS and much of my country was angry about it, there isn't much reason to lie about this. I am not saying it's the truth, but I do believe the worry is warranted.

Key difference was that there was something to gain by manipulating the US into sending troops into Iraq. Oil. The government at the time was run by friends of the oil companies, not by the votes of the people of the United States.

There is nothing worth forcibly taking from North Korea, no offense to NK and the DPRK. I mean as far as natural or produced resources.

If it truly was a satellite launch, nothing more, then congrats on the success, but the resources could've done more to aid the country's people. $1.3 billion in total for their rocket program is a lot of food and other resources, which the people need. I believe strongly in the power of Communism, when led by the right people to uphold the general population and this is not following those ideals.

Their isolated attitude causes distrust, though. I think they need to be more open with the rest of the world. We're no longer separate territories with days of travel inbetween, or the need to rely on stock-piling local resources. We're in an age of world trade, support those who support others. North Korea should become a part of this.

by: Igor from: Russia
December 11, 2012 10:07 PM
North Korea has every right to lauch any rocket carrying satelites into orbits. The so-called " a disguised ballistic missile" has no proof. We are so fed up with the double standard used by the West.
When Vietnam liberated Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge, the regime which genocided 3 million cambodians. Instead of helping Cambodian people, the West denounced Vietnam, supported the Khmer Rouge and helped to maintain its seat in the UN until 1993.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 12, 2012 1:38 AM
Yes, I agree with you. It's a desparate announcement of the west, "the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit."
In Response

by: Tran Tan Dung from: Hong Kong
December 11, 2012 11:11 PM
What's rights when UN even your dictator leaders in Russia too imposed not to allow North Korea launch any test? Ignor, you seem too ignorant on Cambodian facts. No one doubted about the invasion led by the Hanoi expansionist on Cambodian land even today. In your comments, your brain has been washed up by hate, dictatorial and communist ideology of old-fashioned regime. By your words told us that you are one of the suppressors that still remained in Russia, China, Hanoi and the brainless North Korean regime. All these only enjoy stamping on people rights.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs