Pyongyang says rocket carries an earth observation satellite but critics say it is a disguised ballistic missile test.

North Korea has launched a long-range rocket, violating UN resolutions and doubling down against an international community already determined to punish Pyongyang for a nuclear test last month.

State media said on Sunday the mission to put a satellite into space was a “complete success”. Pyongyang labelled the launch part of a purely scientific space programme and vowed to continue launching satellites in the future.

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Yet, South Korea, Japan, the US, Russia and others condemned the firing of the rocket, saying they viewed it as a disguised ballistic missile test.

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UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting later on Sunday in New York, following a request by South Korea, Japan and the US.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the launch “deeply deplorable” and urged North Korea to “halt its provocative actions”.

The rocket took off at around 9:00am Pyongyang time (00:30 GMT), according to the South Korean defence ministry.

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Its pre-orbital flight arc was planned to traverse the Yellow Sea and further south to the Philippine Sea, with both South Korea and Japan threatening to shoot it down if it encroached on their territory.