- The launch is the third attempt this year
- North Korea says satellites needed to track US, allies
- Launches condemned by the United States, Japan and South Korea
- South Korea says Russia could help North Korea
SEOUL/TOKYO, Nov 21 (Reuters) – North Korea successfully placed its first spy satellite into orbit on Tuesday, its space agency said, defying international condemnation from the United States and its allies.
South Korean and Japanese officials, who were first to report the launch, said they could not immediately verify whether a satellite was placed in orbit.
North Korea previously informed Japan of its intention to send a satellite between Wednesday and Dec. 1, after two failed attempts to launch what it calls spy satellites earlier this year.
Citing the Northern National Aerospace Technology Administration, the official KCNA news agency said the satellite was launched from the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility at 10:42 p.m. (1:42 p.m. GMT) and entered orbit at 10:54 p.m. 1:54 p.m. GMT).
The space agency will soon send several spy satellites to continue securing its surveillance capabilities over South Korea and other regions of interest to the North Korean armed forces, KCNA reported.
Tuesday’s launch would be the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Vladimir Putin at Russia’s modern space facilities in September for a summit in which the Russian president promised to help Pyongyang build satellites.
South Korean officials said the latest firing attempt likely incorporated technical assistance from Moscow as part of a growing partnership that has seen North Korea send millions of artillery shells to Russia. Russia and North Korea have denied such arms deals but publicly promise deeper cooperation.
“This launch constitutes another flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” said Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood.
Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Sakura Murakami in Tokyo and Jack Kim, Soo-hyang Choi and Josh Smith in Seoul; written by Jack Kim and Josh Smith; edited by Sandra Maler, Lincoln Feast, Simon Cameron-Moore, William Maclean and Mark Heinrich
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