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N. Korea claims success in rocket launch
SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea announced Wednesday its long-range rocket launch was a success, saying what it claims is a scientific satellite has entered orbit.

   "The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday," the official Korean Central News Agency said. "The satellite entered its preset orbit."

   North Korea launched the three-stage rocket at 9:51 a.m., with its first stage falling in the Yellow Sea, and what appears to be its second stage landing in waters near the Philippines, according to South Korean officials.

   The communist nation has long claimed that it has the right to peaceful use of outer space and the rocket launch was aimed at sending off a scientific satellite.

   But South Korea, the United States, China and other countries have denounced the planned launch as a disguised ballistic missile test and a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban Pyongyang from any ballistic activity because it can be used to develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

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