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PH condemns Nokor rocket launch

Posted at | Updated as of 12/13/12 3:16 AM

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Philippines lifted a no-fly, no-fish, no-sail zone off northern Luzon Island imposed after North Korea launched a rocket earlier Wednesday.

In a statement, the Philippine government condemned the rocket launch, which critics say is a disguised ballistic missile test.

"The Philippines strongly condemns the launch undertaken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 12 December 2012," the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

"The DPRK is in clear violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1695 (2006), 1874 (2009) and 1718 (2006), which explicitly demanded DPRK not to use or conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology and the suspension of its ballistic missile program."

It said debris from the rocket fell in the sea 300 kilometers east of the Philippines.

A National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) report later said the eastern part of Luzon such as Baggao, Cagayan and Polilio island was at risk from falling debris.

NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said North Korea gave no advance warning of the rocket launch and admitted his agency was "taken by surprise."

He said the Philippines did not have the technology to track the trajectory of the rocket and had asked South Korea for guidance.

Earlier this week, Ramos said he expected North Korea would give the Philippines advance notice of any rocket launch so the Philippines could take action to protect airliners, shipping and fishing fleets from any possible debris falling from the third stage of the three-stage North Korean rocket.

Ramos said agency officials are on "red alert" in the Cagayan Valley and Aurora Province areas of Luzon where debris from the rocket could fall if the launch did not to go as reportedly planned by North Korea.

North Korea is banned from conducting missile and nuclear-related tests under U.N. sanctions imposed after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

The rocket's path was scheduled to pass between the Korean peninsula and China, with a second stage splashing down off the Philippines before launching the satellite into orbit.

Most political analysts believe the launch is designed to bolster the credentials of new leader Kim Jong-un as he cements his rule over the country of 22 million people.

N. Korea put object into orbit

The North American Aerospace Defense Command officials said North Korea appeared to have successfully launched an object in orbit on a missile, marking a technological success for the hermit nation.

North Korea had confirmed hours earlier the launch of a long-range rocket on Wednesday and said it had succeeded in its mission of placing a satellite into orbit.

A previous launch of the same Unha-3 rocket in April had ended in failure, with the carrier exploding shortly after take-off.

"North American Aerospace Defense Command officials acknowledged today that US missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of a North Korean missile at 7:49 pm EST" (0049 GMT Wednesday), the joint US-Canadian agency said in a statement. "The missile was tracked on a southerly azimuth."

The United Nations Security Council is set to hold consultations Wednesday after the launch, at the request of Japan and the United States, a Western diplomat said. With reports from Kyodo, Reuters and Agence France-Presse