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North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket

Posted at: 12/12/2012 9:05 AM

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PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Koreans are dancing in the streets of their capital following their government's successful firing of a long-range rocket.

The U.S. and its allies have condemned the launch as a test of technology for a ballistic missile that could attack the U.S. mainland, and it could mean more sanctions against the North.

NORAD officials said U.S. missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch at 7:49 p.m. EST Tuesday. The missile was tracked in a southerly direction.  Neither the missile used nor debris from the launch are a threat to North America.

NORAD said initial indications were that the first stage of the rocket fell into the Yellow Sea and that the second stage fell into the Philippine Sea.

White House: Launch 'highly provocative'

The White House says the launch is a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security."

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is calling the launch "another example of North Korea's pattern of irresponsible behavior."

In a statement released late Tuesday, Vietor says the U.S. "remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations."

The United Nations, the U.S., South Korea and others see the launch as a cover for a test of technology for missiles that could be used to strike another nation with a nuclear warhead.

Vietor says the U.S. will work with other nations and the U.N Security Council "to pursue appropriate action" against North Korea.

China displeased over rocket launch

China is expressing its unhappiness that Pyongyang tested a long-range rocket despite deep concerns over the launch among its neighbors.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters Wednesday: "We express regret at (North Korea's) launch in spite of the extensive concerns of the international community."

Hong says China "believes U.N. Security Council reaction should be prudent and moderate and conducive to maintaining stability and avoiding escalation of the situation."

Hong said dialogue and negotiations are the way forward. He says he hopes relevant countries will keep calm and maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.

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