North Korea recently announced that it was pursuing a "peaceful" space launch, which it claims was within its rights under international law. However, officials in the U.S. and South Korea believed that North Korea had far more sinister intentions -- testing its Taepodong-2 launch vehicle, which could deploy nuclear or traditional payloads to the U.S. or Japan
North Korea tried its first Taepodong-2 test in July 2006, only to meet with failure. Months later, it rocked the world of foreign diplomacy when it carried out a nuclear test. Talks between the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China over North Korea's nuclear disarmament are currently stalled.
Eager to try its hand at another Taepodong-2 test, North Korea launched one over the weekend, only to fail once again according to the BBC. North Korea's state run media at first reported that the satellite payload, named "Kwangmyongsong-2", had successfully reached orbit and was transmitting data, including the "Song of General Kim Il-sung" and "Song of General Kim Jong-il" -- national anthems praising North Korea's former leader, and his son, the current leader of North Korea.
However, U.S. intelligence quickly contradicted these reports, announcing that the missile failed during the second stage of separation on the three-stage rocket, occurring at approximately 0230 GMT. North Korea's failed attempt scattered debris on the Sea of Japan and the Pacific. Describes U.S. intelligence, "Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan/East Sea. The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean. No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan."
U.S. officials "assessed the space launch vehicle as not a threat to North America or Hawaii and took no action in response to this launch," according to a statement. The U.S. and Japan have a joint functional missile shield, which could have been deployed, had the launch been considered a threat. The U.S., EU, Japan and South Korea all condemned the failed launch attempt.
Speaking to a crowd in the Czech capital, Prague, President Barack Obama, stated, "North Korea broke the rules once more by testing a rocket that could be used for a long-range missile. This provocation underscores the need for action - not just this afternoon at the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons."
In particular, he says the launch clearly violates Security Council resolution 1718 adopted in October 2006, which bans North Korea from carrying out ballistic missile activity. China and Russia, both former allies of North Korea, urged the U.S. and others to be conservative in their response to the violation.