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World

North Korea launches rocket

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday that passed over Japan, the government in Tokyo said, defying calls from world leaders to scrap a plan that has caused international alarm.

An artist rendering of the rocket as seen on a TV report

Pyongyang said it put a communications satellite into space

The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency session to debate the North Korean launch following a request from Japan's UN Ambassador.

Tokyo said the rocket's second booster stage had splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, indicating the launch had been successful.

"The projectile launched from North Korea today appears to have passed over towards the Pacific," the Japan prime minister's office said in a statement.

The United States, South Korea and Japan say the launch is actually the test of a Taepodong-2 missile, which is designed to carry a warhead as far as Alaska.

Washington described the launch as a "provocative act" and said it would take "appropriate steps".

US President Barack Obama said on Friday the international community would take action if North Korea went ahead with the launch to show Pyongyang it could not act with impunity.

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