After "preparing" for over a week, moments ago at 00:31 UTC time, North Korea - which has failed to shock the world with some "news" for over a month when it tested a "hydrogen" bomb which according to experts was anything but - launched a long-range rocket which some say is being used as a cover for banned missile test. North Korea has called the launch an attempt to "peacefully launch a satellite." Japan, however, is not happy as according to initial reports, it flew over its airspace in proximity to Okinawa.
N. Korea launches long-range rocket https://t.co/bkiKxJUV9P— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) February 7, 2016
N Korean missle contrails from this morning's launch. pic.twitter.com/pcwvGYIzGA— Brendan C. Vargas (@BrendanVargas) February 7, 2016
TBS reporting from just over the border in China close to launch site with video of the N Korea launch contrails.— Brendan C. Vargas (@BrendanVargas) February 7, 2016
The missile appears to have promptly fallen apart shortly after launch with NHK reporting that three "fallen objects" from missile fell in ocean; 1st object fell in Yellow Sea at 9:37 a.m.; 2nd at 9:39 a.m.; 3rd at 9:45 a.m.: broadcaster NHK
While few care where the NK rocket will end up, most likely deep in the Pacific Ocean (unless it misses it), and according to this graphic the rocket flew wildly off course before crashing...
Graphic via MBN pic.twitter.com/F3MQuaj1Vf— Christopher Green (@Dest_Pyongyang) February 7, 2016
... a more relevant question is whether Japan will retaliate. As a reminder, about a week ago, Japan's Self Defense Forces deployed a Patriot missile launcher in downtown Tokyo over the weekend, as North Korea geared up for a missile launch. The launcher, deployed among a maze of high-rise office buildings and parked outside the Ministry of Defense headquarters, would function as a last-ditch defense should a missile head towards Japan's capital.
For now, there are no signs Japan will engage the NK rocket, even though PM Shinzo Abe, who recently lost his right hand man to the latest Japanese corruption scandal, calls the launch a grave violation:
According to some reports, the missile flew in proximity to Japan's Okinawa, where a major US military base is located. If that is the case, one wonders if the "western" powers are done responding with just words, and if there may be an actual military reaction this time.
South Korea has likewise also issued a diplomatic response:
(URGENT) Park convenes emergency security meeting over N.K. rocket launch https://t.co/GtDsRCdQ1S— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) February 7, 2016
For now, the most likely outcome is nothing. However, if this launch leads to anything more than another round of harsh language and dire warnings by Japan, South Korea and the US, we will update this post, for now however, here is an artist's rendering of a happy Kim Jong Un during today's launch