North Korea Successfully Launches Long-Range Missile, U.S. Officials Confirm

PHOTO: South Korean Army soldiers patrol along the barbed-wire fence in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. PlayAhn Young-joon/AP PHOTO
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US officials say North Korea has successfully launched a long-range missile, apparently into space, and condemned the move as another provocation from the country.

"U.S. Strategic Command systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch into space" said a statement from Strategic Command.

North Korean state media confirmed the launch in an noon announcement, and vowed that futures launches will take place.

But the missile did not pose a threat to the United States or its allies, officials said.

According to a US official, the missile was launched from western North Korea at 7:29 PM ET in a trajectory that took it over the Yellow Sea.

The Japanese government said that the missile had traveled 2,000 km south and parts had landed in the South China Sea.

A US official said it appeared that the missile's third stage had entered space, which would be of major concern to those who have said that the North Korean "satellite launch" was really a cover for a test of its intercontinental ballistic missile technology.

"North Korea's launch using ballistic missile technology, following so closely after its January 6 nuclear test, represents yet another destabilizing and provocative action and is a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions," said Susan Rice, National Security Adviser in a statement issued after Saturday night's launch.

"We condemn today's launch and North Korea's determination to prioritize its missile and nuclear weapons programs over the well-being of its people, whose struggles only intensify with North Korea’s diversion of scarce resources to such destabilizing activities" she added.

Russia also condemned the rocket launch. "We are compelled to state clearly that Pyongyang has not listened to the calls of the international community, having once again demonstrated glaring disregard for the norms of international law," said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement.

The Associated Press reports that Seoul and Washington agreed to commence talks about the possible deployment of the THADD missile defense system in South Korea, according to South Korean Defense Ministry official Yoo Jeh Seung.

The UN Security Council will meet in an emergency session on Sunday to discuss the North Korean missile launch.

"We will continue to work with our partners and members of the UN Security Council on significant measures to hold the DPRK to account," said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement.

In January, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test that it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, though the United States said analysis showed that was not the case.

"This is the second time in just over a month that the DPRK has chosen to conduct a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well," said Kerry.

"We reaffirm our ironclad commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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