Regardless of its true nature, the launch marks a negative development of the situation on the Korean Penisula as it has sparked extensive world anxiety and concern.
China on Friday said it opposes unilateral sanctions against the DPRK, for efforts to avoid complicating the situation.
“China is against any unilateral sanction in international affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press briefing in response to possible U.S. sanctions against the DPRK.
Expectations emerged for the Sunday launch as the DPRK moved up its rocket launch window to Feb. 7-14 from the previous Feb. 8-25. Pyongyang informed the International Maritime Organization on Saturday of the revised plan, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
In May 1993, the DPRK test-fired a medium-range Rodong ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
In August 1998, the DPRK launched the first man-made satellite Kwangmyongsong-1, which it said was successful. But the United States and South Korea said what the DPRK had fired was an intermediate-range Taepodong-1 ballistic missile, part of which flew over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.
In July 2006, the DPRK launched several ballistic missiles, including an advanced long-range Taepodong-2 missile. But the launch of Taepodong-2 was an apparent failure, and the missile landed in the Sea of Japan. In October that year, the country said that it had conducted a successful underground nuclear test.
In April 2009, Pyongyang said it had launched a Kwangmyongsong-2 communications satellite with a three-stage Unha-2 rocket, though U.S. military and South Korean officials said it had failed to put the satellite into intended orbit.
Washington also said the DPRK launched a “Taepodong-2 missile” in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which forbids the country from using ballistic missile technology.
The launch was followed by the DPRK’s second underground nuclear test, which happened in May and was declared successful by the government.
In April 2012, the DPRK launched a rocket carrying the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, but the Earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit, its official KCNA news agency reported.
In December 2012, two months before its third nuclear detonation in February 2013, the DPRK successfully sent a Kwangmyongsong-3 Earth observation satellite into orbit, delivered by a three-stage Unha-3 rocket.
In March 2014, the DPRK launched short-range missiles for two straight days amid continued joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.
The DPRK fired 16 short-range rockets, possibly FROG surface-to-surface missiles, from the Wonsan area on the DPRK’s southeastern coast toward the eastern open waters.