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North Korea Launches Rocket to International Outcry

North Korea launched a rocket Sunday, despite warnings from Japan, South Korea and the United States not to proceed.

The rocket, launched at 11:30 a.m. -- 0230 UTC, passed over Japan, with the first stage landing in the Sea of Japan and a booster falling in the Pacific. Japanese officials said no debris fell on its territory.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the launch "provocative" and a clear violation of U.N. Security Council rules.

In a written statement released in Prague, the Czech Republic, where Mr. Obama will deliver a speech Sunday on eliminating nuclear weapons, the president said North Korea's development and proliferation of ballistic missile technology poses a threat to the northeast Asian region and to international peace and security.

He urged North Korea to abide fully by U.N. Security Council resolutions and refrain from further provocative actions.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Fred Lash said Washington would take immediate steps to let North Korea know it cannot threaten the security of others with impunity.

The Security Council announced it would meet at 3 p.m. Sunday - 1900 UTC - New York time, after Japan submitted a letter requesting an urgent meeting.

South Korea condemned the launch, calling it "reckless."

North Korea had said it planned to launch a communications satellite. Pyongyang's neighbors and the United States believe the launch was a test of the North's long-range ballistic missile capability.

Pyongyang missed its first chance at the controversial liftoff Saturday -- a move meteorologists blamed on bad weather conditions.

It had pledged to hold the launch between Saturday and Wednesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.