North Korea’s long-range rocket failed early Friday, U.S. officials said.
The rocket broke up soon after taking off.
“All indications are that it failed,” one official said but went on to say that they are still looking into it.
The White House said it would issue a statement, NBC News reported.
The launch, which North Korea’s neighbors and the West say is a disguised ballistic missile test, was to take a three-stage rocket over a sea separating the Korean peninsula from China before releasing a weather satellite into orbit when the third stage fires over waters near the Philippines.
Regional powers also worried it could be the prelude to another nuclear test, such as one the hermit state conducted in 2009.
The South Korean Defense Ministry announced that North Korea fired the long range rocket Friday morning around 7:38 a.m. The ministry later also said the rocket broke into several pieces in the air a few minutes after launch, based on joint intelligence from South Korea and the United States.
North Korea had announced it was planning the launch of an observation satellite to celebrate Sunday’s centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s late founder.
“There is not a lot of information being disseminated at this point,” said Richard Engel, NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, who is in North Korea. “But we did hear just a short while ago after the launch took place, after it was confirmed internationally, some martial music playing in the street, some fighter jets flying overhead. This is a national celebration time in North Korea and this rocket launch and this satellite launch, as the government describes it, is seen as a source of pride.”
The Japanese Defense Minister said early Friday that the North Korea rocket test had no effect on Japanese territory.
The U.S. earlier canceled food aid when North Korea announced the rocket test, despite Pyongyang’s February agreement to suspend all tests in exchange for food, NBC News reported.
Earlier Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting with G8 foreign ministers that the U.S. would be going to the UN Security Council to seek action. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice is the rotating President of the Security Council and controls when to call a meeting.