SEOUL • The international community lined up to condemn North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket yesterday carrying what it has called a satellite, but which neighbours and the United States denounced as a missile test in defiance of United Nations sanctions and just weeks after a nuclear bomb test.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch was "absolutely intolerable", while US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would work with the UN Security Council on measures to hold North Korea to account.
Even China, North Korea's main ally, expressed regret, calling on all sides to act cautiously and refrain from steps that might raise tension.
Singapore said it was "appalled" by Pyongyang's "deliberate and provocative actions" that pose "grave threats" to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
The US Strategic Command said it detected a missile entering space yesterday morning, and South Korea's military said the rocket had put an object into orbit.
In a special state television broadcast, the North's star announcer, Ms Ri Chun Hee, hailed the satellite's "epochal" launch, personally ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea's state television carried still pictures of a white rocket lifting off, and of Mr Kim surrounded by cheering military officials.
North Korea's last long-range rocket launch, in 2012, put what it called a communications satellite into orbit, but no signal has ever been detected from it.
"Everything we have seen is consistent with a successful repeat of the 2012 (launch)... But it's still too early to tell for sure," said US missile technology expert John Schilling, who is involved in the "38 North" North Korean monitoring project at Johns Hopkins University.
North Korea had notified UN agencies that it planned to launch a rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite, triggering opposition from governments that see it as a long-range missile test.
The UN Security Council was expected to hold an emergency meeting in New York yesterday.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE