North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday. “A rocket appears to have been launched from North Korea,” Prime Minister Aso’s office said in a statement.
By firing a rocket, which landed in the Pacific Ocean, the North Koreans appear to be edging toward the capability to shoot a nuclear warhead on a longer-range missile. The North Koren satellite launch is said to be a disguised missile test.
North Korea had said it was sending a satellite into space and gave international agencies notice of a planned trajectory that would take the rocket over Japan, dropping booster stages to the east and west.
The United States, South Korea and Japan have said they would see the launch as a test of the North’s long-range Taepodong-2 missile capabilities, which is designed to fly as far as Alaska. Washington has said there would be consequences if Pyongyang went ahead with the launch.
US President Obama said North Korea has broken global rules and has called on the U.N. Security Council to act.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said the first part of the rocket is estimated to have fallen in the Sea of Japan, about 280 km west of Akita Prefecture, at 11:37 a.m.
The second stage flew over the northeastern prefectures of Akita and Iwate and is estimated to have fallen into the Pacific, more than 2,100 km east of Japan.
Police said there have been no reports of damage in the northern Japan region.
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces did not try to intercept the North Korean rocket Sunday following its launch, the Japanese ministry said, adding it finished tracking the second stage about 2,100 km east of Japan over the Pacific.
Obama Urges Nuclear Arms Reduction (April 5, 2009)
Obama’s Statement on North Korea Rocket Launching (April 5, 2009)