The Japanese government says North Korea apparently launched a rocket at 11:30 AM.
The government said that, under normal conditions, there is little possibility that the projectile would fall onto Japanese territory.
But it calls on people to stay away if the projectile or any of its parts do land. It urges them to notify police or fire officials, and follow instructions.
The government is collecting and analyzing information concerning the launch, including where the projectile is headed.
North Korea has launched a long-range rocket, U.S. and South Korean officials confirmed to CNN on Sunday.
The payload of the rocket remains unclear. North Korea has said the rocket was to carry a satellite into space, but the United States, South Korea and other nations fear it could be a missile with a warhead attached.
A senior Obama administration official in Washington confirmed that the rocked did clear Japan.
The rocket — launched at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET Saturday) — was a “provocative act in violation” of U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea’s weapons program, said Fred Lash, a State Department spokesman, told reporters.
An October 2006 resolution condemned North Korea for missile launches in the summer and a nuclear test that same month.
North Korea fired a rocket over Japan on Sunday, defying Washington, Tokyo and other world leaders who suspect the launch was cover for a test of its long-range missile technology. President Barack Obama warned the move would further isolate the communist nation.
Liftoff took place at 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) from the coastal Musudan-ri launch pad in northeastern North Korea, the South Korean and U.S. governments said. The multistage rocket hurtled toward the Pacific, reaching Japanese airspace within seven minutes, but no debris appeared to hit its territory, officials in Tokyo said.
A senior defense official told FOX News the missile “never posed a threat” and “defensive measures were not needed.”
The U.N. Security Council approved an emergency session for Sunday afternoon in New York, following a request from Japan that came just minutes after the launch.
Sunday’s move was a bold act of defiance against President Barack Obama, Japanese leader Taro Aso, Hu Jintao of China and others who pressed Pyongyang in the days leading up to liftoff to call off a launch they said would threaten peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
“I urge North Korea to abide fully by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council,” Obama said in Prague, Czech Republic, calling on Pyongyang to refrain from further “provocative” actions.
But China, Pyongyang’s biggest source of economic aid and diplomatic support, urged all sides to maintain calm and exercise restraint. It offered to play a “constructive role,” though some fear it could block a unified response to the launch at the Security Council.
North Korea claims its aim is to send an experimental “Kwangmyongsong-2” communications satellite into orbit in a peaceful bid to develop its space program.
The U.S., South Korea, Japan and others suspect the launch is a guise for testing the regime’s long-range missile technology — one step toward eventually mounting a nuclear weapon on a missile capable of reaching Alaska and beyond.
They contend the launch violates a U.N. Security Council resolution barring the regime from ballistic missile activity, part of efforts to force North Korea to shelve its nuclear program and halt long-range missile tests.
State Department spokesman Fred Lash called the launch a clear violation of Resolution 1718, adopted five days after North Korea carried out a nuclear weapons test in 2006. The U.S. will “take appropriate steps to let North Korea know that it cannot threaten the safety and security of other countries with impunity,” he said late Saturday in Washington.
Japan’s U.N. mission immediately requested a meeting of the 15-nation council Sunday, spokesman Yutaka Arima said. Mexico’s mission to the United Nations set the meeting for 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT), spokesman Marco Morales said. Mexico holds the 15-nation council’s presidency this month.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon regretted North Korea’s move “against strong international appeal” at a time when nuclear disarmament talks involving six nations remain stalled.
“Given the volatility in the region, as well as a stalemate in interaction among the concerned parties, such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability,” Ban said in a statement from Paris.
At the United Nations, diplomats already have begun discussing ways to affirm existing sanctions on North Korea against its nuclear program and long-range missile tests.
However, diplomats said the U.S., Britain and France, each of which holds veto power on the 15-nation council, are unlikely to secure agreement on new sanctions in the face of probable resistance from China, North Korea’s closest ally, and Russia, the other two nations with veto power. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
In Japan, chief Cabinet spokesman Takeo Kawamura also said it was not immediately clear if the rocket was mounted with a satellite as North Korea has claimed.
In Seoul, an unnamed government official told the Yonhap news agency the trajectory of the rocket suggests it was mounted with a satellite but said it was unclear whether the bid to get the satellite into orbit was successful.
“Even if a satellite was launched, we see this as a ballistic missile test and we think this matter should be taken to the United Nations Security Council,” Kawamura said. “We are highly concerned by this matter.”
Resisting weeks of pressure to call off the launch, North Korea advised international aviation and maritime authorities last month of the rocket’s flight path.
The first stage of the rocket dropped about 175 miles off the western coast of Akita into the waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula. The second stage was aimed for the Pacific at a spot about 790 miles off Japan’s northeastern coast, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said in Tokyo.
Japan had threatened to shoot down any debris from the rocket if the launch went wrong, and positioned batteries of interceptor missiles on its coast and radar-equipped ships off its northern seas to monitor the launch.
No attempt at interception was made since no debris fell onto its territory, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said in Tokyo, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
However, in addition to calling for the Security Council meeting, Japan threatened to add more bilateral sanctions onto those it imposed after the July 2006 launch of a similar Taepodong-2 long-range missile that fizzled 42 seconds after takeoff.
South Korea, which technically remains at war with the North because their three-year conflict ended in 1953 in a truce rather than a peace treaty, put its forces on heightened alert.
North Korea, one of the world’s poorest nations, is led with absolute authority by leader Kim Jong Il, who is poised to preside over the first session of the country’s new parliament on Thursday. The appearance will be his first major public appearance since reportedly suffering a stroke last August.
Amid the controversy over the rocket launch, North Korea announced last week it would put two American reporters detained at the border with China on trial for allegedly entering the country illegally and engaging in “hostile acts.”