North Korea on Wednesday morning launched a long-range multistage rocket and claims to have put a satellite into orbit. In a preliminary assessment, the United States also said that an object carried by the rocket went into orbit. Pyongyang’s action must be condemned in the strongest terms. It ignored repeated calls by the international community to cancel the launch, the second this year following an attempt on April 13. At that time, the United Nations Security Council issued a presidential statement condemning Pyongyang’s action.

North Korea had announced that it planned to launch a long-range rocket sometime between Dec. 10 and 22, with the aim of placing a satellite in orbit. It tried to justify its plan by arguing that every country has a right to pursue a peaceful space development program and insisted that it was following the final instructions left by its late leader Kim Jong Il, who died on Dec. 17, 2011. Apparently the North’s current leader, Mr. Kim Jong Un, is trying to consolidate his regime by showing the North Korean people that he is obeying his father’s final wishes.

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