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North Korea claims successful rocket launch, others disagree

The North Korean government is touting a controversial rocket launch this weekend as a success, despite indications that it crashed into the Pacific Ocean and never made it into space.

North Korean state media claims the launch, condemned by the U.S. as a missile test in violation of United Nations sanctions, carried an "experimental communications satellite" into orbit as part of the development of the country's space program. The satellite "is sending to the earth the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans 'Song of General Kim Il Sung' and 'Song of General Kim Jong Il,'" according to the Korean Central News Agency.

But international observers aren't buying it. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) reported that "North Korea launched a Taepo Dong 2 missile at 10:30 p.m. EDT Saturday," but that the top stages of the missile, along with whatever payload it carried, fell into the Pacific Ocean. South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee seconded that assessment, according to the Japanese Kyodo news agency, telling a parliamentary session that "nothing has been put into orbit."

North Korean coat of arms via Wikimedia Commons

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