North Korea defies neighbors with rocket launch


Pyongyang believed to have successfully launched satellite into orbit

By Alex Jensen

SEOUL – North Korea ignored a series of United Nations resolutions by launching a rocket Sunday morning, as monitored by the South Korean military.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the launch took place just after 9.30 a.m. (0030GMT) from the same Dongchang-ri site as when North Korea last blasted a rocket into space, in 2012.

“It’s presumed that the projectile has entered into orbit,” a South Korean military official was quoted as saying by local news agency Yonhap, contrary to earlier suggestions that the launch might have failed.

The rocket was fired just a day after a Seoul official claimed that Pyongyang had brought forward its launch window, having initially told a United Nations maritime agency that the earliest date would be Feb. 8.

Clear weather Sunday may have been a factor in prompting North Korea to decide to go ahead earlier, but the reclusive state had been under pressure to cancel what it claimed was a peaceful satellite mission.

UN resolutions bar the North from ballistic missile technology, but the authoritarian state is yet to be punished for its nuclear test last month.

Interrupting her country’s long holiday weekend in honor of the Lunar New Year, South Korean President Park Geun-hye called an emergency response meeting.