Reports: North Korea attempts to launch rocket

Kim Jong Un
In this Oct. 10, 2015, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gestures as he watches a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea said on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Several Asian news agencies are reporting North Korea attempted to launch a rocket, perhaps with intent to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. according to officials.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency is reporting that North Korea’s rocket launch may have failed.

The agency provided no other details in a short dispatch.

The South’s Defense Ministry says it cannot immediately confirm the report. North Korea successfully put a satellite into orbit in its last launch, in December 2012. But before that Pyongyang suffered a series of failures.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the North Korean launch and the recent nuclear test violations of U.N. agreements.

He told reports: “We absolutely cannot allow this. We will take action to totally protect the safety and well-being of our people.”

The Japanese government says no rocket debris fell on the Japanese territory and there are no reports of damage.

A South Korean defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of office rules, says the South Korean military was tracking the rocket’s trajectory but gave no further details.

He says the launch from the North’s west coast launching pad was made between 9:30-9:35 a.m. local time.

Japan’s NHK broadcaster reported that the Japanese government said the rocket passed over the southern Japanese island of Okinawa but no anti-missiles were fired.

The launch Sunday follows North Korea’s claim last month to have tested a hydrogen bomb and will likely draw more sanctions and condemnation in the United Nations.

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