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US: N. Korean missile launch a failure
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US: N. Korean missile launch a failure

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At 7:39 am Korean time, North Korea launched a rocket it said would place a satellite in orbit, according to Yonhap news.

In advance of the launch, the gesture was seen as a direct threat to Japan. The US has said the launch would draw immediate punitive measures. Along with South Korea, the countries had seen the launch as an attempt to further the North's threatening military capabilities.

Appearing on CNN, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reported that US Defense Department officials said the rocket launch had been a failure.

It "may have fallen apart," she quoted an unnamed official as saying.

Yonhap news quoted Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka as telling reporters in Tokyo that the rocket had fallen into the ocean just one minute after takeoff and had not entered Japanese air space or territorial waters.

Japan had vowed to shoot down the rocket if it threatened Japanese territory.

A US official told CNN  that no part of the rocket had exited the earth's atmosphere.

A failure of the launch could prove especially embarrassing to the North Korean government as the event was intended to mark the 100th anniversary of the state's founding leader Kim Il Sung's birth and to punctuate the rise to power of Kim Jong Un.

North Korea had also shown unusual self-confidence in advance of the launch, extraordinarily inviting foreign media correspondents to be present.

South Korean officials say the three-stage Unha-3 rocket had been launched from the western coastal village of Tongchang-ri, according to The Associated Press . However, citing the South Korean army, NBC news said , the debris had fallen off of Kunsan on South Korea's western coast.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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