North Korea fired a long-range rocket this morning, going against reports that it was extending the launch window to repair “technical flaws”.
South Korean military confirmed the launch this morning which came as a surprise after parts of the rocket were apparently taken down to fix the defects. Government officials from Seoul claimed that Pyongyang seemed to be considering cancelling the operation altogether, Yonhap news agency reports. South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak has called an emergency security meeting of his National Security Council.
Japan, which deployed missile defense systems on locations directly under the rocket’s flight path to shoot down the rocket, did not issue a destroy order for the North Korean rocket.
The missile flew over Okinawa and was headed south, the Japanese government says. Rocket debris from the first stage fell 200 km west of the Korean Peninsula in the Yellow Sea. The second stage fell 300 km southwest in East China Sea while the 3rd stage fell 300 km east of the Philippines.
Tokyo said in a statement that the missile launch was “extremely regrettable”.
“Our country cannot tolerate this. We strongly protest to North Korea,” chief government spokesman Osamu Fujimura told AP.
South Korean Defense Ministry told Yonhap news the North’s launch “may have been a success”.