from The Los Angeles Times April 4th, 2009
Ending several days of high alert in East Asia, the rocket reportedly crosses Japanese air space before landing in the Pacific. Japan had threatened to shoot it down.
Reporting from Seoul — North Korea launched what was believed to be a multi-stage rocket on Sunday, ending weeks of speculation about the regime’s efforts to expand its ability to deliver nuclear weapons.
The North Korean news agency announced that a rocket was launched about 11:30 a.m. The U.S. State Department, the South Korean president’s office and Japanese media reports confirmed the launch.The rocket reportedly crossed Japanese air space before plunging into the Pacific Ocean, according to press reports from Japan. Japanese officials apparently did not attempt to shoot down the rocket, as they had threatened to do.
North Korea had said it planned to put a communications satellite into space. But many analysts predicted that the launch would actually be a test of the regime’s ability to use the three-stage Taepodong 2 to deliver a warhead.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted government officials in Seoul as saying that the rocket carried a satellite. That report was not immediately confirmed.
The rocket is estimated to have a range of more than 4,000 miles. Some analysts say that with a light payload, it could reach the western U.S.
On Sunday morning, the rogue state had appeared to activate its rocket tracking radar system just minutes before the start of the 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. window given for the launch, according to a South Korean news agency.
East Asia had been on high alert for days as the U.S., Japan and South Korea continued to monitor North Korea. All three nations dispatched ships armed with missile interceptors to the ocean waters around the Korean peninsula. Continue Reading →