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North Korea hailed its successful long-range rocket launch on Wednesday as a “ground-breaking” event that paid tribute to former leader Kim Jong-Il a year after his death.
“The successful launch... is a ground-breaking event in developing the country's scientific technologies and economy by exercising our rights for the peaceful use of space,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
“Our technicians and scientists successfully sent the... satellite into orbit by holding the teachings of the great leader Kim Jong-Il in high esteem,” it added.
KCNA put the timing of the launch from the Sohae launch centre in the northwest at 9.49am (00.49 GMT) - two minutes earlier than the time provided by the South Korean military.
The satellite entered orbit about nine minutes later, it said.
“Now the satellite is rotating at the orbit, moving between 499.7 and 584.18 kilometres above the Earth,” it said, lauding scientists for helping mark the 100th birth anniversary the North's founding leader Kim Il-Sung.
The nuclear-armed state insisted that the launch was a purely peaceful scientific project.
But the United States and allies South Korea and Japan view it as a disguised ballistic missile test banned under the UN resolutions triggered by its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
The North's young leader, Kim Jong-Un, was believed to be extremely keen that the launch fell close to the first anniversary of the death of his father Kim Jong-Il on December 17. - AFP