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By Jack Kim and Shinichi Saoshiro SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday carrying what it has said is a satellite, South Korea's defense ministry said, in defiance of United Nations sanctions. The U.S. Strategic Command said it had detected what it called a missile entering space, appearing to quash earlier media reports indicating it might have failed during flight. Japan's Fuji Television Network showed a streak of light heading into the sky, taken from a camera at China's border with North Korea.
North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday, violating UN resolutions and doubling down against an international community already struggling to punish Pyongyang for a nuclear test last month. Pyongyang insists its space programme is purely scientific, but most of the world views its rocket launches as disguised ballistic missile tests aimed at developing a weapons delivery system capable of striking the US mainland. There was no immediate confirmation that the final stage of the satellite-bearing rocket had successfully achieved orbit, and an unconfirmed report from South Korea's Yonhap news agency suggested the second stage may have malfunctioned.