A nonprofit institution that focuses on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons on Monday night released what appears to be satellite images of North Korea’s rocket in flight.
The communist nation launched the rocket last weekend in defiance of international opposition. The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security said it obtained the images from a DigitalGlobe satellite and that they were taken Sunday in North Korea. In one image, the missile’s exhaust plume can be seen. The flame from the burning propellant appears as a solid white mark. The terrain below the rocket in a second image is only a few kilometers away from the launch pad, the institute said. The third image is a close-up of the flame from the rocket’s burning propellant, the institute said.
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CNN could not independently confirm the information provided by the institute, led by former U.N. nuclear inspector David Albright. North Korea has described the launch — which flew in the face of numerous international warnings — in celebratory terms. State-run media KCNA said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il expressed “great satisfaction” at seeing the launch of the rocket carrying a communications satellite.
Not only did the country successfully send a communications satellite into orbit, KCNA said, but “it is sending to the Earth the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans ‘Song of General Kim Il Sung’ and ‘Song of General Kim Jong Il.’ ” The United States and other nations say the move demonstrated the country’s ability to shoot a long-range missile — a rocket with a warhead attached — and violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.