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The fact of launching a missile from the territory of North Korea angered the neighbors and the US
Only weeks after the North Korean nuclear test, North Korea launched into space a missile carrying something officially declared as a communication satellite on board, which again aroused fears of the international community
Critics say that this missile is used to test the technology of launching long-range missiles, notes Reuters.
South Korea and the United States of America said that a decision should be made "as soon as possible" on the need to deploy a forward-based missile defense system in South Korea.
The Joint Strategic Command of the United States Air Force said that they had found a missile in near-earth space, and the South Korean armed forces reported that the rocket had put an object into low-earth orbit.
North Korea has announced the successful launch of the Gwangmyeongseon 4 satellite, named after the late leader Kim Jong Il. The launch was led by him 33-year-old son of Kim Jong-un. The satellite was successfully launched into orbit and is now in near-earth space, making a complete revolution around the planet in 94 minutes.
The state news agency of North Korea published in the media a photo of a white rocket soaring skyward, much like the one previously launched. Another photograph, in a room similar to a command center, shows Kim surrounded by jubilant military personnel.
A single long-range missile launch was carried out by North Korea in 2012. The rocket allegedly put a communications satellite into orbit, but no signal was received from it.
“North Korea will be able to improve its satellite control in low-Earth orbit if it can communicate with Gwangmyeongseon 4,” said David Wright, co-director and senior fellow of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"Even if this does not happen, the country will gain additional experience in launching missiles and will also be able to test the reliability of its missile systems."
The rocket launched at 9:30 Seoul Time (0030 UTC) on a north-south trajectory exactly as planned. Fuji Television Network, Japan, showed a small video footage shot by an amateur camera on the border of China and North Korea, in which a streak of light is heading skyward.
North Korea has notified the United Nations (UN) that it plans to launch a rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite, prompting suspicion from government agencies in various states, which saw this as a test of a long-range ballistic missile.
According to a UN spokesman for Venezuela, the UN Security Council at an emergency meeting on Sunday condemned the launch and pledged to take "serious measures" in response to Pyongyang's violation of UN resolutions.
US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said: "The United States intends to see to it that the UN Security Council takes decisive retaliatory measures. The present lawlessness of the DPRK requires the most severe retaliatory measures. "
After Pyongyang tested atomic weapons on January 6 this year, the United States and China have already begun discussing a resolution on UN sanctions.
North Korea originally planned to launch between February 8-25, but on Saturday the timeline changed to 7-14 February, obviously to take advantage of the favorable weather conditions on Sunday.
As noted by Reuters, the National Aerospace Development Administration of North Korea called the launch "a landmark event in the development of science, technology, economy and defense of a country legitimately exercising its right to use outer space for independent and peaceful purposes."
Nuclear weapons tests and rocket launches are signs of the young Korean leader's efforts to secure the ideological legitimacy of his dominance ahead of the ruling party's Congress this May, for the first time since 1980.
According to the Russian news agency Interfax, the North Korean embassy in Moscow said that despite everything, the DPRK will continue to launch rockets with satellites on board.
South Korea and the US have said that if an advanced missile defense system, called THAAD, is deployed in South Korea, it will be used solely to prevent an attack from North Korea.
Seoul declined to openly discuss the possibility of deploying THAAD in the country. South Korean President Park Geun-hye called Sunday's launch an unforgivable provocation by the DPRK.
"North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, so it is our alliance's responsibility to work to defend against these threats," said Curtis Michael Scaparrotti, Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces in ROK.
China, South Korea's largest trading partner, has expressed concern that the DPRK may use its radar system to target missiles at targets in China.
According to the government of South Korea and the United States, the joint military exercises of the two countries this year "will be the largest and most advanced in the history of interaction between the two countries." North Korea objects to the exercise, calling it a prelude to a US-led war aimed at overthrowing the Pyongyang government.
The US military has about 28 troops stationed in South Korea.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States will work with the UN Security Council to develop "serious measures" against North Korea for flagrantly violating UN resolutions on North Korea's use of ballistic missile technology.
According to the State Department, Kerry held a telephone conversation on the matter with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Sunday.
The remains of what could have been structural elements of the missile's containment were found off the coast of South Korea. This suggests that South Korea is actively seeking evidence of a previous launch to support the accusation that North Korea is developing a dangerous military program.
China expressed regret over the incident and called on all parties to proceed with caution to avoid escalating the conflict. China is North Korea's main ally, but it also does not approve of the development of the DPRK's missile program.
Russia, which has forged closer ties with North Korea in recent years, said the launch could only spark "strong protest," adding that Pyongyang has once again shown disregard for international law.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the incident with his Japanese counterpart, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. During the conversation initiated by the Japanese side, Sergey Lavrov stressed the particular importance for Russian diplomacy in defusing tensions in the Northeast Asia region.
North Korea has been under UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006. Since then, the country has conducted three more atomic tests, the latest of which was carried out last month, along with numerous ballistic missile launches.
The fourth was the hydrogen bomb test, North Korea said. However, the United States, along with other states, expressed doubts about this statement.
North Korea is working to reduce the size of the warhead in order to be able to install them on long-range missiles, although many experts agree that the country will take a long time to improve this technology.
There are suggestions that the purpose of the recent launch of a ballistic missile was to test the possibility of hitting the west coast of the United States, but there is no hard evidence of this.