Despite Japanese news programmes just this morning stating that North Korea would likely delay the launch of its “long-range rocket” until the end of the month, South Korean news sources have revealed that the launch went ahead earlier today at around 9:50 a.m. Japan Standard Time.
Debris from the rocket is believed to have fallen into the sea between South Korea and China, with additional parts crashing down close to the Philippines.
The notoriously private country had previously announced that it would launch a satellite into orbit between 11-22 December, but after rumours of technical deficiencies in the first-stage engine surfaced, it was believed that the launch would be delayed until the end of the month, after the first anniversary of the death of former leader and lover of khaki Kim Jon-il next Monday.
This is North Korea’s second launch this year of what is suspected to be long-range missile technology, with the country’s previous effort ending in failure back in April when its rocket broke up before reaching full altitude.
The United Nations security council had previously warned North Korea that launches of this kind would be seen as a violation of sanctions put in place prohibiting the country from testing potential long-range missile technology. The country, which maintains that it is simply attempting to launch a satellite into space, went ahead with the launch regardless.
Japanese Self Defence Forces have been on high alert since news surfaced that North Korea was preparing a launch, but is not believed to have taken action to intercept the rocket during its flight this morning.