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SKorea says NKorea has fired long-range rocket

FILE - In this Sunday, April 8, 2012 file photo, a North Korean soldier stands in front of the country's Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12-16, at a launching site in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. According to North Korea's official version o
FILE - In this Sunday, April 8, 2012 file photo, a North Korean soldier stands in front of the country's Unha-3 rocket, slated for liftoff between April 12-16, at a launching site in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. According to North Korea's official version of things, commemorated on postage stamps and re-enacted in mass performances, the country's first venture into space was 14 years ago, when the "Bright Shining Star 1" satellite roared into orbit and began broadcasting marching music praising Kim Il Sung.
David Guttenfelder, File, Associated Press

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a long-range rocket early Friday, South Korean defense officials said, defying international warnings against a launch widely seen as a provocation.

In Washington, U.S. officials said the launch may have failed.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters in a nationally televised news conference in Seoul that North Korea launched the rocket around 7:39 a.m.

He said officials were trying to determine whether it was a success. He provided no further details, and declined to say how South Korea confirmed the launch in the west coast hamlet of Tongchang-ri.

There was no word in Pyongyang about the launch, its third attempt to send a satellite into space since 1998.

North Korea had announced it would send a three-stage rocket mounted with a satellite as part of celebrations honoring national founder Kim Il Sung, whose 100th birthday they are celebrating Sunday.