North Korea's long-range rocket launch condemned by Foreign Office


The Foreign Office has "strongly" condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket thought to have been a test of its ballistic missile technology.

Pyongyang defied international warnings in going ahead with the launch just over a month after the secretive state carried out what it claimed was its first successful test of a hydrogen bomb.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We strongly condemn North Korea's missile launch.

"North Korea is fully aware that multiple UN Security Council Resolutions prohibit the use of ballistic missile technology.

"We will work with allies and partners to ensure there is a robust response if the DPRK persists in violating these resolutions.

"We will also emphasise to North Korea through diplomatic channels that such actions will only serve to isolate the country further."

The test was followed swiftly by condemnation from South Korea, Japan and the international community.

South Korea president Park Geun-hye labelled the launch an "intolerable provocation" that was motivated by maintaining North Korea leader Kim Jong Un's primacy in spite of the suffering of the country's people.

She convened an emergency meeting with advisers after the launch and the UN Security Council is expected to meet on Sunday at the request of South Korea, Japan and the US.

Secretary of State John Kerry labelled the test "a flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions".

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said "we absolutely cannot allow this" as reports emerged that the rocket flight was visible from the southern island of Okinawa.

He added: "We will take action to totally protect the safety and well-being of our people."

North Korea's main ally China responded with a rare show of criticism of the country.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said they "regret that, disregarding the opposition from the international community, the (North) side obstinately insisted in carrying out a launch by using ballistic missile technologies".

The rocket was fired from a launch pad on North Korea's west coast between 9.30am and 9.35am local time (1.00am-1.05am GMT) on a southern trajectory over the East China Sea.

Debris from the rocket crashed back to earth around 155 miles off the south-west coast of the Korean Peninsula around 14 minutes after take-off.

Footage from Japan's NHK broadcaster showed an object visible from the southern island of Okinawa believed to be the rocket in flight.

There was speculation that the test had in fact been a failure, although North Korea has had some success with past launches.

In December 2012 it successfully put a satellite into orbit, drawing condemnation from the international community.

Pyongyang claimed the latest rocket launch had successfully delivered a satellite into orbit and vowed to continue launching satellites in future.

In a statement read on the state-run channel North Korean TV an announcer said the launch had been ordered by Mr Kim.