KCNA (North Korea), THE KOREA HERALD (South Korea), NHK (Japan)

Worldcrunch

North Korea's state-run news agency has announced the country has successfully put a satellite into orbit Wednesday.

Pyongyang says the three-stage, long-range rocket was successfully launched off the west coast of North Korea Wednesday morning, after its previous attempts failed earlier this year.

"The launch of the second version of our Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite from the Sohae Space Centre ... on December 12 was successful," state news agency Korean Central News Agency said. "The satellite has entered the orbit as planned."

@UStreamNews via Twitter

The rocket's first stage fell into the Yellow Sea off South Korea's west coast, with the second stage falling into waters near the Philippines.

The Japanese government reported that parts of the rocket had passed over the Okinawa islands. Japan had previously put its armed forces on alert in preparation of the rocket launch.

The launch has provoked condemnation from South Korea, Japan and the United States, fearing the satellite is a cover to test long-range missile technology.

“The missile’s loaded object has apparently entered into orbit. But we still have to see whether it will operate properly,” Kim Min-seok, spokesperson for South Korea's Defense Ministry, told the Korea Herald.

“We believe that the North fired the missile to show that the Kim Jong-un regime is in firm control and stable,” he said.

The rocket launch comes a week before the first anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death.

Citizens of North Korea praised the rocket launch, with Japanese news broadcaster NHK citing one resident as saying, "Our late commander Kim Jong-il would be so happy to hear that the launch was successful. I'm sure that by following the instructions of Kim Jong-un, our country will become strong and prosperous."

Another said, "I felt very proud to be North Korean when I heard about the news. I realized the scientific technology of our country has reached the highest level."

Below is North Korea's special news bulletin announcing the rocket launch around midday Wednesday:

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