North Korea Launches Nuclear Warhead-Capable Missile, Defies World Leaders

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has successfully launched a long-range missile into space on Tuesday, defying intense international pressure and ratifying its previous launch failure from earlier this year.

"The success of the launch -- which most analysts assume is a clandestine missile test -- brings North Korea one step closer to demonstrating a viable and reliable long-range delivery vehicle for a nuclear warhead," said Benjamin Habib, lecturer in Politics and International Relations School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University, according to CNN.

Eight months ago North Korea attempted a similar satellite launch, which was much hyped but unsuccessful, causing many to doubt whether the isolated Pacific nation really has the capabilities it boasts about. The succesful lanch of the long-range Unha-3 rocket carrying satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County has shown, however, that the country is still working hard to prove to the rest of the world that it has the technology it claims.

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"If the missile technology is mastered, the last technical hurdle remaining is miniaturization of a nuclear warhead that can be deployed on the Unha-3 rocket," Habib added.

Reuters noted that launch has been condemned by the U.S., Japan and South Korea, as the technology demonstrated by the missile launch has the potential of producing a nuclear warhead that can hit targets as far away as North America.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed on Tuesday that North Korea "deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit," the first time an independent organization has verified such claims. The U.N. had banned North Korea from developing nuclear and missile-related technology, but both the late Kim Jong-Il and his successor, Kim Joung-un have defied those bans.

"At a time when great yearnings and reverence for Kim Jong-il pervade the whole country, its scientists and technicians brilliantly carried out his behests to launch a scientific and technological satellite in 2012, the year marking the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung," North Korea's KCNA news agency declared.

"The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences," a statement from the White House fired back.

Japan has also branded the launch as "unacceptable," according to The Washington Post, while South Korea has called for an emergency security meeting.

"It is extremely regrettable that North Korea went through with the launch despite our calls to exercise restraint," said Osamu Fujimura, a Japanese government spokesman.

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