North Korea has launched a long-range rocket, but reports suggest that the missile fell apart not long after launch.
Pyongyang claimed the test was part of a peaceful program to launch a weather satellite, however, other countries noted that the test would also allow the North Koreans to gage the range and accuracy of their missile program.
Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, reported from North Korea that: “There is not a lot of information being disseminated at this point…(but) we did hear just a short while ago after the launch took place, after it was confirmed internationally, some martial music playing in the street, some fighter jets flying overhead. This is a national celebration time in North Korea and this rocket launch and this satellite launch, as the government describes it, is seen as a source of pride.”
Relations between the United States and North Korea had looked to be moving in a positive direction with a February deal under which Pyongyang “agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities” in exchange for food aid. However, the U.S. said it was suspending the deal in light of Pyongyang’s insistence the satellite launch was to go ahead.
The launch, along with recent reports that North Korea may soon also test a nuclear device, is dashing any remaining hopes that Kim Jong-un’s rule would see a departure from the policies of his late father.