North Korea launches rocket despite warnings

A defiant North Korea has launched a long range rocket, despite warnings from the international community against doing so.

South Korean defense officials say the rocket was fired from a west coast launch site at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday local time. Japanese authorities said the missile overflew Okinawa about 12 minutes after liftoff, and said the Japanese military did not attempt to intercept it.

Both South Korea and Japan called emergency meetings of their top security councils minutes after the launch. Japanese television said the second stage of the rocket fell into seas off the Philippines as planned.

In the runup to the launch, analysts described the rocket as a disguised ballistic missile, in violation of international regulations.

Pyongyang had vowed to proceed with the launch, despite bad weather and a series of technical difficulties.

North Korea is banned from carrying out any missile or nuclear-related tests by United Nations resolutions imposed in 2006 and 2009, after it conducted unsuccessful nuclear tests. A rocket launch in April also ended in failure.

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