The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK) has launched its three-stage rocket, Kwangmyongsong-3, from the Sohae Space Centre in Cholsan County, northwest North Korea, amidst international criticism.
State-run Korean Central News Agency has reported the launch to have been declared successful, with the rocket entering the orbit as planned.
The US North American Aerospace Defense Command has also confirmed the launch in a statement, saying the missile was detected and tracked by the US missile warning systems on a southerly azimuth.
Debris from the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea, while the second stage is expected to have fallen into the Philippine Sea, the statement added.
The launch came just two days after South Korean media reported an extension of the launch window until 29 December 2012, due to a "technical deficiency" in the rocket’s first stage.
The launch has been widely condemned by the international community, with the US calling it a ”highly provocative act that threatens regional security".
But Pyongyang has constantly maintained the launch to be peaceful, insisting it intends to place a communication satellite into orbit, but the US, South Korea and Japan consider it a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Japan had ordered its military to strike down the missile if considered a national security threat, in addition to deploying Patriot advanced capability-3 missile batteries in Tokyo and Okinawa, and a trio of Aegis radar and ballistic missile defence systems-equipped destroyers into the Sea of Japan.
Previous attempts from North Korea to launch a satellite into orbit using its long-range Unha-3 (Galaxy) rocket in April 2012 failed as the rocket crashed into the sea following a few minutes of flight.