North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket today triggered angry reactions from across the globe and calls for a "tough" response to its latest provocation with arch-rival South Korea saying it will begin talks on possible deployment of a US missile defence system.
A month after it claimed a successful hydrogen bomb test, North Korea announced it had successfully put a satellite into orbit, "legitimately exercising the right to use space for independent and peaceful purposes".
This picture taken from North Korean TV and released by South Korean news agency Yonhap on February 7, 2016 shows North Korea's locket launch of earth observation satellite Kwangmyong 4. North Korea said on February 7, it had successfully put a satellite into orbit, with a rocket launch widely condemned as a ballistic missile test for a weapons delivery system to strike the US mainland. Pic/AFP
The development was hailed by Pyongyang as an "epochal event" but the rocket launch was widely condemned as a ballistic missile test for a weapons delivery system to strike the US mainland.
The US strongly condemned North Korea's launch of the long-range rocket, describing the move by the hermit nation as "destabilising and provocative."
"The United States strongly condemns today's missile launch by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) -- a flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions related to its use of ballistic missile technology," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.
"This is the second time in just over a month that the DPRK has chosen to conduct a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well," he said.
On January 6, Pyongyang claimed to have successfully detonated a powerful hydrogen bomb, prompting South Korea and Japan to demand fresh round of punitive sanctions on the country.
Kerry said the US will stand with its allies, including South Korea and Japan, and will hold the DPRK to account.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced North Korea's rocket launch while asking the country to halt its "provocative actions" and return to compliance with its international obligations.
Condemning the launch as "deeply deplorable", the UN chief said it was in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
China "expressed regret" over North Korea's rocket launch after Pyongyang said it successfully put a satellite into orbit. China is North Korea's sole major ally and main trading partner but ties between the two have been strained in recent years due to Pyongyang's nuclear programme.
Russia, considered of being soft on North Korea, also condemned the move, saying it was a serious blow to regional security including that of Pyongyang.
France condemned North Korea's actions as "senseless provocation" and called for a "rapid and tough" response from the UN Security Council.
In the wake of North Korea's rocket launch, South Korean and US defence officials said they would begin formal talks on the deployment on the Korean peninsula of a US missile defence system to counter the growing threat from North Korea.