The US Strategic Command said it had detected a missile entering space, and South Korea’s military said the rocket had put an object into orbit.
The U.N. Security Council responded at an emergency meeting last night by issuing a statement strongly condemning the rocket launch and pledging to “expeditiously” adopt a new resolution with “significant” new sanctions.
North Korea said the launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-4, named after late leader Kim Jong Il, was a “complete success” and it was making a polar orbit of Earth every 94 minutes.
The launch order was given by his son, leader Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be 33 years old.
The launch prompted South Korea and the US to announce that they would explore the feasibility of deploying an advanced missile defence system in South Korea, which China and Russia both oppose, “at the earliest possible date.”
North Korea’s state news agency carried a still picture of a white rocket that closely resembled a previously launched rocket, lifting off.
Another showed Kim surrounded by cheering military officials at what appeared to be a command center.
North Korea’s last long-range rocket launch, in 2012, put what it called a communications satellite into orbit, but no signal has ever been detected from it.
The UN Security Council held a closed-door emergency meeting at the request of the US and Japan. The statement approved by all 15 council members underscored that launches using ballistic missile technology, “even if characterised as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle” contribute to North Korea’s development of systems to deliver nuclear weapons.