North Koreans celebrate following rocket launch

North Korea fires long-range rocket

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -  

North Koreans danced in the streets of their capital Wednesday after the regime of young leader Kim Jong Un successfully fired a long-range rocket, defying international warnings and taking a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear-tipped missile.
 
The rocket launch will enhance the 20-something Kim's credentials at home a year after he took power following the death of his father Kim Jong Il. It is also likely to bring fresh sanctions and other punishments from the U.S. and its allies, which were quick to condemn the launch as a test of technology for a missile that could attack the U.S. mainland. Pyongyang says it was merely a peaceful effort to put a satellite into orbit.
 
The White House called it a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security."
 
Even China, North Korea's closest ally, expressed "regret" that North Korea went ahead with the launch "in spite of the extensive concerns of international community," said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei.
might delay it. That it succeeded after several failed attempts was an even greater surprise.
 
The timing of the launch came as something of a surprise after Pyongyang had indicated technical problems
might delay it. That it succeeded after several failed attempts was an even greater surprise.
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