North Korea launched a satellite into space Sunday, its state media reported. A state TV newsreader said that the launch had been personally ordered and directed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was pictured smiling in official photographs as he oversaw the launch, and that more satellite launches were planned.
Photo: The Kwangmyongsong carrier rocket just being launched from its pad.
Photo: A passenger walks past a TV screen broadcasting a news report on North Korea’s long range rocket launch at a railway station in Seoul, Feb. 7, 2016.
U.N. Security Council condemns North Korean rocket launch
The launch triggering a wave of international condemnation and prompting strong reaction from an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
Though North Korea said the launch was for scientific and “peaceful purposes,” it is being widely viewed by other nations as a front to test a ballistic missile, especially coming on the heels of North Korea’s purported hydrogen bomb test last month.
Photos above & below: The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, oversaw the launch personally.
Pyongyang carried out both acts in defiance of international sanctions.
Satellite in space
The Kwangmyongsong carrier rocket blasted off from the Sohae launch facility at 9 a.m Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday), entering orbit nine minutes and 46 seconds after liftoff, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA reported.
The United States, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Britain and France, as well as the European Union and NATO, were swift to condemn the launch.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye called the launch a “challenge to world peace,” while her government announced it would begin talks with the U.S. to deploy a defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, which can intercept missiles in flight.
China summoned North Korea’s ambassador to protest Pyongyang’s launch of a satellite using ballistic missile technology, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
It also criticized the plans for South Korean-U.S. missile defense system talks and summoned the South Korean ambassador over the matter.
NATO head Jens Stoltenberg Sunday called North Korea’s rocket launch “a direct violation” of five U.N. Security Council resolutions and demanded Pyongyang comply with international law.
Satellite or nuclear missile?
At present, North Korea is believed to have one satellite in orbit, the Kwangmyongsong 3-2, though doubts have been raised about whether it is functioning.
U.S. officials have said the same type of rocket used for Sunday’s launch could deliver a nuclear warhead.