By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — North Korea says it has launched a rocket that successfully placed a satellite into orbit.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said U.S. systems detected that North Korea had launched an object into Earth orbit.
NORAD said the first stage of the rocket fell into the Yellow Sea, and the second stage fell into the Philippine Sea.
The rocket was launched around 0050 GMT on December 12.
Japan said the rocket had flown over Okinawa. Tokyo denounced the firing as “intolerable,” but said Japan had made no effort to shoot down the rocket.
South Korea called an emergency meeting of its National Security Council.
The White House condemned the launch as a “highly provocative act that threatens regional security” and that directly violates United Nations Security Council resolutions imposed over North Korea’s nuclear tests.
The launch followed a failed rocket launch by the North in April.
Critics accuse the North Korean regime of using launches as a cover to develop missiles that can carry nuclear weapons.
The North’s launch came ahead of elections due soon in South Korea and Japan.