The UN Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket and passed a resolution refining existing sanctions.
North Korea successfully launched a long-range, three-stage rocket on Dec. 12 into outer space. The launch, confirmed by officials from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, followed a failed attempt in April, and was the fifth major ballistic test for the North since 1998.
North Korea says its rocket program is for peaceful, scientific satellites, but the council said the technology used in the launch was close to those for long-range missiles. North Korea is banned from testing missiles or nuclear technology under U.N. sanctions after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear weapons tests.
Vast crowds reportedly packed Pyongyang on Dec. 14, as North Korea marked its recently launched rocket. A special broadcast on state TV showed tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers clapping and cheering while officials gave celebratory speeches. Video of leader Kim Jong-un at the rocket launch command center on Dec. 12 was also released.
"The fact that they've launched this missile is a clear provocation. We warned them not to do it." Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
North Korea carried out a test of a "miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force," according to its state media. South Korea said the underground explosion delivered a 10-kiloton yield — greater than North Korea's first 2 tests, but less yield than a Hiroshima-type bomb.
Following weeks of negotiations with China, the U.S. proposed a new resolution on sanctions against North Korea. After reviewing the resolution, all 15 members of the UN Security Council approved the sanctions on Mar. 7.
North Korea reportedly reached out to China to discuss future nuclear tests and possibly another rocket launch soon. A Reuters source with ties to both countries' governments says, "It's all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year."
"Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor." North Korea Foreign Ministry
Panama stopped a North Korean-flagged ship sailing from Cuba on suspicion the boat was smuggling drugs. When the ship was inspected, port authorities found: 9 missiles; an anti-aircraft missile system; 2 MiG 21-Bis fighters and 15 MiG engines hidden under 100,000 tons of brown sugar.
If you don't have a Circa account yet, download and sign up using the free app for iPhone.