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(NECN/NBC News: Ian Williams, Beijing) - North Korea launched its rocket shortly before 10 a.m. local time provoking immediate and angry reaction in Japan and South Korea where security officials went into emergency session.
The North quickly declared it a success, claiming the rocket had put a satellite into orbit.
Most outside observers see it as a disguised test of a ballistic missile that could one day carry a nuclear warhead as far as the US.
The test was in violation of UN resolutions and the US and its allies have warned Pyongyang against going ahead.
Even China, the North's most close diplomatic ally had expressed deep concerned.
The foreign ministry spokesman today urged the North to abide by UN resolutions and called for a resumption of stalled international talks.
It's the second time this year that Pyongyang had tested a long range rocket, the first having burned up soon after launch.
US experts concede that today's launch does appear to have been a success and will likely boost efforts by the North's new leader Kim Jong-un to consolidate his rule.