North Korea defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the UN and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the US mainland. The rocket was fired from North Korea's west coast and tracked separately by the governments Japan and South Korea, which immediately convened an emergency national security council meeting, reports the AP. South Korean media reported that the rocket may have failed, but provided no other details. The launch follows North Korea's widely disputed claim last month to have tested a hydrogen bomb. This time, the North had said it was launching a satellite, reports CNN.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch and the weapons test violations of UN agreements. "We absolutely cannot allow this," he told reporters at the prime minister's residence. "We will take action to totally protect the safety and well-being of our people." A South Korean defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the rocket disappeared from South Korean military radars around six minutes after its launch. The official said there were no immediate reports of debris landing on South Korean territory or damaging property. The rocket's first stage fell off South Korea's west coast, the official said. (Read more North Korea stories.)