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As North Korea celebrates surprise rocket launch, alarm mounts abroad (+video)

North Korea went ahead with a rocket launch despite international pressure to call it off. Critics say the launch masks a weapons development effort and is a clear violation of UN sanctions.

North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket, which the US calls a 'highly provocative act that threatens regional security.'
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North Korea scored a stunning success Wednesday, firing a long-range rocket that put its own satellite into orbit for the first time, one day after South Korean officials claimed North Korean engineers were dismantling the rocket for repairs.

The North insisted on going through with the launch in the face of widespread international criticism, underscoring its determination to produce missiles for its own use and export – and possibly carrying out a third nuclear test. 

South Korea joined the United States and Japan in strongly condemning the launch as a clear violation of UN sanctions imposed after previous launches of similar rockets in 2006 and 2009. US, South Korean, and Japanese officials see the move as basically a test of a fearsome device capable of delivering a nuclear or chemical warhead as far as Hawaii, Alaska, or even the US West Coast.

A spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington denounced the launch as “a highly provocative act that threatens regional security” using “ballistic missile technology despite express prohibitions by UN Security Council resolutions.”

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