Liftoff took place at 11:30 am (0230GMT) Sunday from the coastal Musudan-ri launch pad in northeastern North Korea, the South Korean and US governments said.
Japan immediately called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council.
N Korea completes preparation for rocket launch
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Image: This April 2, 2009 file satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows a missile on the launch pad at Musudan-ri, North Korea formally know as Taepo-dong missile launch facility. On Sunday, April 5, 2009, Japanese public broadcaster NHK says North Korea has launched a rocket, citing Japanese government.