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North Korean Leader Calls for More Powerful Rockets

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a banquet in Pyongyang in this image released by North Korea's KCNA news agency December 22, 2012.
North Korea's leader has called for the development of more powerful rockets, following last week's successful launch of a long-range rocket.

Kim Jong Un made the call for the advancement of North Korean rockets while speaking at a banquet for rocket scientists Friday in Pyongyang.

"You should develop and launch a variety of working satellites, including communications satellites and carrier rockets of bigger capacity, with the same spirit and stamina with which you successfully launched satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2," said Kim Jong Un.

The U.S., South Korea, Japan and various other governments condemned last week's launch as a ballistic missile test banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions. But the North Korean leader praised the launch as an unprecedented enhancement.

"Through the successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 which left the whole world in shock, you encouraged our military and people with great national pride and certain faith, punished our enemies with an iron hammer, who viciously maneuver to stop us from moving forward, and made a great contribution in unprecedentedly enhancing our Republic's international standards and influence," said Kim Jong Un.

North Korea said the three-stage rocket succeeded in placing what it called a weather satellite into orbit.

The timing of the launch surprised many observers and Western diplomats because reports, just a day earlier, suggested North Korea was disassembling the rocket because of technical difficulties.