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North Korea Launches Long-Range Missile

SEOUL/TOKYO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Wednesday, boosting the credentials of its new leader and stepping up the threat the isolated and impoverished state poses to its opponents.

The rocket, which North Korea says was designed to put a weather satellite into orbit, has been labelled by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting targets as far as the continental the United States.

"The satellite has entered the planned orbit," North Korea's state news agency KCNA said.

North Korea followed what it said was a similar successful launch in 2009 with a nuclear test that prompted the United Nations Security Council to stiffen sanctions against Pyongyang that it originally imposed in 2006 after the North's first nuclear test.

The state is banned from developing nuclear and missile-related technology under U.N. resolutions, although Kim Jong-un, the youthful head of state who took power a year ago, is believed to have continued the state's "military first" programmes put into place by his deceased father Kim Jong-il.

After Wednesday's launch, which saw the second stage of the rocket splash down in seas off the Philippines as planned, Japan's U.N. envoy called for a Security Council meeting. However, diplomats say further tough sanctions are unlikely to be agreed at the body as China, the North's only major ally, will opppose them.

The rocket was launched just before 10 a.m. Korea time (01000 GMT), according to defence officials in South Korea and Japan, and easily surpassed a failed April launch that flew for less than two minutes.

There was no independent confirmation it had put a satellite into orbit.

Japan's likely next prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who is leading in opinion polls ahead of an election on Dec. 16 and who made his name as a North Korea hawk, called on the United Nations to adopt a resolution "strongly criticising" Pyongyang.

There was no immediate official reaction from Washington, South Korea's major military backer, or from China.

China had expressed "deep concern" over the launch which was announced a day after a visit by a top politburo member to Pyongyang when he met Kim Jong-un.

On Wednesday, China's state news agency Xinhua said North Korea had the "right to conduct peaceful exploration of outer space."

But it added: "Pyongyang should also abide by relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 1874, which demands (North Korea) not to conduct 'any launch using ballistic missile technology' and urges it to 'suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme.'"

U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who heads the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, quickly condemned the launch and called for tougher sanctions.

"It is clear that Pyongyang is moving ever closer towards its ultimate goal of producing a nuclear ballistic missile in order to threaten not only our allies in the Asia-Pacific region but the U.S. as well," she said.

A senior adviser to South Korea's president said last week it was unlikely that there would be a meaningful set of sanctions agreed at the United Nations but that Seoul would expect its allies to tighten sanctions unilaterally.

A YEAR ON FOR THE THIRD KIM

Kim Jong-un, believed to be 29 years old, took office after his father died on Dec. 17 last year and experts believe that Wednesday's launch was intended to commemorate the first anniversary of the death.

The April launch was timed for the centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea and the grandfather of its current ruler.

"This is a considerable boost in establishing the rule of Kim Jong-un," said Cho Min, an expert at the Korea Institute of National Unification.

There have been few indications the secretive and impoverished state, where the United Nations estimates a third of the population is malnourished, has made any advances in opening up economically over the past year.

North Korea remains reliant on minerals exports to China and remittances from tens of thousands of its people working on labour projects overseas.

The 22 million population often needs handouts from defectors who have escaped to South Korea in order to afford basic medicines.

Given the puny size of its economy - per capita income is less than $2,000 a year - one of the few ways that North Korea can attract world attention is by emphasising its military threat.

Pyongyang wants the United States to resume aid and to recognise it diplomatically, although the April launch scuppered a planned food deal.

It is believed to be some years away from developing a functioning nuclear warhead and to have enough plutonium for around half a dozen nuclear bombs, according to nuclear experts.

The North has also been enriching uranium which would give it a second path to nuclear weapons as it sits on vast natural uranium reserves.

It says that its development is part of a civil nuclear programme, but has also boasted of it being a "nuclear weapons power".

by Anonymousreply 2012/12/2012

Dammit op, don't you see we are talking about more important things like TMZ saying Denise Richards will take care of Sheens other kids. Priorities Op, get them.

by Anonymousreply 112/11/2012

Hopefully, those people will get hit by the next missile NK successfully sends.

by Anonymousreply 212/12/2012

What? Are you serious??

by Anonymousreply 312/12/2012

North Korea's insistence on developing nuclear weapons is fucking pathetic. This is a country where most of the population is starving to death, but the government spends its money on weapons to fight imaginary enemies instead of taking care of the population. Communism at its absolute worst.

by Anonymousreply 412/12/2012

r4, America has that same problem. Military first, American citizens second.

by Anonymousreply 512/12/2012

ERMAHGERD!

by Anonymousreply 612/12/2012

Their attitude is "So what are you going to do about it? Invade us?"

They learned that from us.

by Anonymousreply 712/12/2012

Another non-issue that will most likely be exploited by the military-industrial complex in America as usual.

by Anonymousreply 812/12/2012

and North Korean technology enters the 1940s!!!

Karl Von Braun would be proud!

by Anonymousreply 912/12/2012

We don't need to worry about North Korea. When you consider all the dysfunctional, hateful, uneducated and sociopathic people in the U.S. who love their guns above all else, we can blow ourselves away with no problem whatsoever...and probably will.

by Anonymousreply 1012/12/2012

R5, thank you so much for that false equivalence. The U.S. has problems with wealth inequity. In North Korea, people really are starving to death. If you want to compare the two countries, please tell me the last time the United States suffered a true famine. I won't hold my breath waiting for your post.

Have you ever seen a night time photograph of North Korea? It's amazingly dark as compared to any other highly populated place on the planet. The country lacks the resources for night time lighting. North Korea has been blowing its foreign reserves for years on this nuclear program. The people really are starving.

And as for whether anyone wants to invade? Who the fuck wants to take over the problem of North Korea? Despite the problem of divided families and the grievous civil rights problems in the north, South Koreans dread the day of reunification almost as much as they want the north freed. The wealth disparity between north and south is massive. What will happen to the south when they have to bring their northern cousins into the 21st century?

No one wants to invade North Korea. They just want North Korea to stop fucking with other countries and to take care of its own people.

by Anonymousreply 1212/12/2012

It's probably only a big dildo with a propeller

by Anonymousreply 1312/12/2012

This helps them feel better about their tinymeat image.

by Anonymousreply 1412/12/2012

But as you can see, we can't fuck with North Korea at all. We screwed with weak pussy countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Qaddafi would still be in power today, if he had nukes.

The only reason Qaddafi was removed was due to NATO help. NATO which is a defensive alliance to PROTECT EUROPE from communist aggression.

So much for that, NATO is now about nation establishing (Afghanistan and Kosovo) and wastes billions.

by Anonymousreply 1512/12/2012

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a bastion of socialism. It's philosophy of juche (look it up!)is the way of the future. Americans should be so lucky!

by Anonymousreply 1612/12/2012

I find it interesting that no oneis actually certain how old Kim Jung-Un is.

by Anonymousreply 1712/12/2012

We don't fuck with North Korea because it's in China's sphere of influence, not because it's powerful.

by Anonymousreply 1812/12/2012

Vice's visit to North Korea. Amazing.

by Anonymousreply 1912/12/2012

Maybe we could help them develop one that would reach the Michigan Capitol building

by Anonymousreply 2012/12/2012
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