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North Korea launches its second rocket this year

December 11, 2012|By Emily Alpert
  • This image shared by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows the announced zones where stages of the North Korean rocket are expected to splash down.
This image shared by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows the announced… (Union of Concerned Scientists )

North Korea launched a rocket Wednesday morning, according to South Korean media and the Associated Press. The launch marks the second such mission this year, after a failed attempt that embarrassed the regime in April.

The rocket was fired at 9:51 a.m., according to the Yonhap news agency in South Korea. 

Though North Korea describes the effort as a peaceful satellite launch, the technology used to send a satellite into orbit or launch a missile carrying a warhead is essentially the same, raising fears that a successful mission could be a stride toward putting the United States in North Korea's sights. The U.S., South Korea and other nations condemned the planned launch as a brazen provocation when it was first announced.

The April launch ended in less than two minutes. The rocket broke into pieces shortly after liftoff, a black eye for the country as it marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il Sung. Earlier attempts to launch a satellite also failed, according to Western officials.

North Korea experts say the latest undertaking is a bid to regain face after the April effort and an attempt to bolster the leadership of Kim Jong Un, who took power late last year.

The country announced at the beginning of the month that its scientists had analyzed the errors behind the April failure, but some analysts were skeptical that it had had enough time to fix the problems.

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