Defiant North Korean rocket launch gives Kim Jong-un a boost (+video)
One year into his role as North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un made a statement by launching a rocket on Wednesday. Experts suggest the launch was intended to honor the current leader's father who died last year.
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.