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Defying International Warnings, North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket

December 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

GWEN IFILL: And now to North Korea, where a successful rocket launch echoed in world capitals today.

We begin with a report narrated by John Sparks of Independent Television News.

JOHN SPARKS: In a country where there is little to shout about, except on the evening news, today brought something special.

“It’s the proud result of the Workers’ Party’s policy on science and technology,” bellowed the newsreader.

The last time they tried this, back in April, North Korea’s multistage rocket disintegrated a few minutes after takeoff.

But, this time, it seems they got it right. The only pictures we have got come from the control room’s big-screen TV, but we can see the rocket leave the launch pad and climb into the upper atmosphere.

And we’re told it put a satellite, the Shining Star-3, into orbit. This country may not be able to feed its own people, but its engineers can fire things into space.

“It’s made with our own technology and our own strength,” says the director of the command center. The country’s boyish-looking supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, has disregarded the will of the international community and enhanced his own credentials with the military at home.

Some hoped he’d take a more reformist approach one year after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, but those hopes have been dashed, it seems.

In South Korea, protesters took to the streets burning flags and portraits. And the international community added its voice, too, the worry, that the launch has more to do with the development of long-range missiles, missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons.