So much for that delay. North Korea successfully fired a long-range rocket today, defying international warnings as the regime of Kim Jong Un took a giant step forward in its quest to develop the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead. The United States, South Korea, and Japan quickly condemned the morning launch, which came as something of a surprise after Pyongyang had indicated technical problems might delay it. That it succeeded after several failed attempts was an even greater surprise.
About two hours after the launch, North Korea's state media proclaimed it a success, prompting celebrations in Pyongyang. NORAD later confirmed that North Korea did appear to have put an object into space. The regime's stated purpose for firing its long-range Unha-3 rocket was to put a peaceful satellite into orbit, but the United Nations, as well as the US and its allies, see it as cover for a test of technology for missiles. The launch, which comes just days before South Korea's presidential election, is likely to bring fresh sanctions on the North, (Read more North Korea stories.)