North Korea launches, but rocket appears to fail

North Korea has fired a long-range rocket, top U.S. and South Korean officials confirm. But a top U.S. official tells CBS News correspondent David Martin Press that the rocket "may have failed."

North Korea's Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12-16, stands at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea on Sunday April 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(CBS/AP) SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea has fired a long-range rocket, top U.S. and South Korean officials confirm. But a top U.S. official tells CBS News correspondent David Martin Press that the rocket "may have failed."

South Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters in a nationally televised news conference that the rocket was fired at 7:39 a.m.

He said officials were trying to determine whether it was a success. He provided no further details, and declined to say how South Korea confirmed the launch in the west coast hamlet of Tongchang-ri.

Japan's Defense Minister Naiki Tanaka said, "We have confirmed that a certain flying object has been launched and fell after flying for just over a minute." He did not say what exactly was launched.

He said there was no impact on Japanese territory from the launch.

A U.S. official told Reuters Thursday: "We are confirming the rocket launched." The White House said it would release a statement on the launch shortly, and South Korean presidency was set to hold an emergency meeting.

Reuters reported that the U.N. Security Council will convene on Friday to discuss a response to the launch, according to council diplomats.

"The North Korea rocket launch is a clear provocation and a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions which prohibit this activity," Kap-soo Rim, First Secretary of the Republic of Korea Mission to the U.N., told CBS News.

"The Security Council should act decisively, and strongly," Rim said, "the Ambassador is waiting for instructions from Seoul."

CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk said that the launch probably marks the end of the food agreement with the U.S. "but it is unlikely to provoke more than a statement of alarm from the U.N. in the short term, and perhaps more extensive sanctions in the long term, particularly since the launch failed."

North Korea had announced it was planning the launch of an observation satellite to celebrate Sunday's centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country's late founder. There was no word from Pyongyang about the launch, its third attempt to send a satellite into space since 1998.

The United States, Japan, Britain and others had said the launch would be a provocation and would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile programs. Experts say the Unha-3 carrier is similar to the type of rocket that could be used to fire a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead to strike the U.S. or other targets. The U.S. had vowed to cut off food aid to North Korean in the event of a launch.

Japan's parliament adopted a resolution Thursday condemning the scheduled rocket launch.

"A launch is a serious act of provocation that would affect peace and stability in the region that includes our country," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, reading the resolution adopted unanimously at the lower house. "We strongly urge North Korea to use self-restraint and not to carry out a launch."

South Korea's Defense Ministry said it was prepared to shoot down any rocket that strays into its territory.

North Korea denies that the launch is anything but a peaceful civilian bid to send a satellite into space. The Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is designed to send back images and data that will be used for weather forecasts and agricultural surveys.


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