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North Korean Rocket Launch Fails, US Officials Confirm

North Korean technicians check the Unha-3 rocket at Tangachai -ri space center on April 8, 2012. PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images(SINGAPORE) -- North Korea's anticipated missile launch failed Thursday after it fired the long-range test rocket, defying U.N. Security Council resolutions and an agreement with the United States.

The 90-ton rocket launched and there was a larger than anticipated flare.

U.S. officials said that the missile is believed to have crashed into the sea.

It was launched from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the northern part of the country, near its border with China.

It was expected to travel south by southwest, passing by South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. Splash down was expected to take place in the waters off the coast of Australia.

The Communist nation had announced a five-day window for launching the satellite, which began on Thursday.

The show of muscle put the region on edge, but Donald Gregg, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1989-1993 and an ABC News consultant, said he believed it was new leader Kim Jong Un's way of asserting his power.

"The main audience for this missile is internal not external," Gregg said. "This is [Kim Jong Un's] way of demonstrating to the people of North Korea he is in charge and his country is capable of high tech things. It is a manifestation of his power."

North Korea claimed earlier that the planned rocket launch was just a satellite called Shining Star, which was being launched into orbit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the regime's founder, Kim Il Sung.

Experts did not doubt the possibility of a satellite being attached to the rocket, but felt the satellite was a cover to test a long-range missile.

The rocket launch defies two United Nations Security Council resolutions that prohibit North Korea from testing ballistics missiles. It also breaks a promise North Korean leaders made to U.S. leaders in Beijing at the end of February.

The regime had promised to suspend nuclear missile tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches in exchange for food aid from the United States.

On Tuesday, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said the launch of a rocket would hinder the promised aid.

The rocket launch is the first under Kim Jong Un. The regime's leader, who is believed to be 29 years old, assumed party leadership in January of this year, weeks after the death of his father.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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