At 9 PM local time on Sunday, a bright, comet-like trail could be seen arcing across the sky in Japan and South Korea – a sight that sparked anxiety from many in the conflict-plagued region. The trail belonged to the long-ranged rocket Kwangmyongsong, launched from North Korea’s Sohae Space Center and purportedly intended for scientific purposes, contained a 400-pound satellite, a much lower weight than most satellite launches from more well-developed countries. In addition, the rocket’s path was reported to have entered Japanese airspace before reaching orbit, according to the country’s aerospace radar.
These facts, along with the Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea’s long history of political incitement and blatant violation of international treaties, have led many U.N. partners to condemn the launches as a poorly-disguised test of their long-range ballistic missile capabilities. This would not be the first time North Korea has tested their offensive capabilities; just last month, several intelligence agencies and scientific institutions reported that the rogue state had tested a hydrogen bomb within their borders, a clear violation of multiple United Nations treaties. The United States has already convened with Japan and South Korea in an emergency meeting, and has reportedly discussed installation of advanced missile-defense measures in both countries, as well as increased defensive troop presence along the demilitarized zone surrounding the isolated country. UN secretary Ban Ki Moon described the test as “deeply deplorable”, vocally opposing the act as a violation of Security Council resolutions. China, one of North Korea’s few friendly neighbors on the peninsula, urged moderation when deciding on a course of action, citing peace on the peninsula as a more important goal than any further economic or military sanctions.