Washington: North Korea's successful test of a long-range missile triggered global anger with the US and the hermit nation's immediate neighbours Japan and South Korea terming it as "highly provocative" and warning that it would destabilise the region.
Washington and its allies said that the test had intensified the threat posed by the nuclear-armed nation and the launch triggered plans for an emergency session of the UN Security Council, which has imposed sanctions against Pyongyang.
North Korea insisted that its launch was not a banned inter-continental missile test, but only a mission to place a scientific satellite in orbit. However, American Aerospace command said the test marked an apparent technological success for the hermit nation, implying that Pyongyang had acquired the capability to strike at US mainland.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un broke the successful launch tidings to his isolated nation with the Korean News Agency (KCNA) claiming that the news was greeted with joy in the streets.
But worldwide, the launch was condemned by most of the nations including China, the lone staunch ally of the wayward communist state, which regretted the test, but called on all sides to avoid "stoking the flames".
"The satellite has entered the orbit as planned, " KCNA reported with the statement repeated later in triumphant special broadcast on state television.
The US North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), a joint US-Canadian agency which said it had monitored flight of the missile said North Korea appeared to have successfully launched an object in orbit on a missile, marking a technological success for the nation.
NORAD Command officials said that US missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of the North Korean missile at 7:49 pm EST.
In Washington, the US today termed the long-range missile launch by the North Koreans as a "highly provocative act", saying it threatened regional stability as American Aerospace command said the test marked an apparent technological success for the hermit nation.
"North Korea's launch today using ballistic missile technology despite express prohibitions by UN Security Council resolutions is a highly provocative act and is yet another example of its pattern of irresponsible behaviour," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
"The US remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and fully committed to the security of our allies in the region," he said.
The United Nations, Japan and South Korea also strongly reacted to the launch which came as something of a surprise after Pyongyang indicated that technical problems could delay the test.
China rapped its close ally North Korea over its long-range missile launch, demanding that Pyongyang comply with UN resolution against ballistic missiles.
Quoting a reaction from the country's Foreign Ministry, official Xinhua news agency urged all nations in the region to exercise restraint.
First Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 08:25