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The North Korean rocket launch has failed on Friday morning, Pyongyang officials have confirmed.

The rocket – seen by many as a banned test of long-range missile technology – was launched from north-west North Korea early on Friday.

The US, Japan and South Korea say it flew only for a short time before breaking up and crashing into waters off the Korean peninsula.

North Korea said its scientists were assessing what had caused the failure.

North Korea says the aim of the rocket was to launch a satellite into orbit – a move marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il-sung.

But the US and other nations say the launch constituted a disguised test of long-range missile technology banned under UN resolutions.

In a statement, the White House condemned the launch, despite its failure. The UN Security Council is due to meet later in the day to discuss the launch. China, North Korea’s closest ally, has called for calm and restraint on the Korean peninsula.

The rocket went up at 07:39 local time, South Korean officials said.

The North Korean rocket launch has failed on Friday morning

The North Korean rocket launch has failed on Friday morning

Its intended flight path would have taken it south, to the west of the Korean peninsula between Japan and the Philippines.

Both Japan and South Korea had threatened to shoot it down if it threatened their territory.

But officials from several nations observing the launch said the rocket had failed.

“Initial indications are that the first stage of the missile fell into the sea 165 km [105 miles] west of Seoul, South Korea,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command [NORAD] said in a statement.

“The remaining stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land. At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat.”

Japan reported similar details.

“At approximately 07:40 we confirmed that a certain flying object was launched from North Korea and fell after flying for just over a minute,” Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said.

South Korea said the rocket exploded into some 20 pieces and fell into the sea.

“We are conducting a search operation to retrieve the fallen objects,” a defense ministry official said.

Some five hours after the launch, North Korea confirmed it had been unsuccessful.

“The Earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit. Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure,” state-run KCNA news agency said. State television carried a similar announcement.

The US said that North Korea’s behavior was of concern to the global community.

“Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments,” a White House statement said.

Pyongyang agreed in February to a partial freeze in nuclear activities and a missile test moratorium in return for US food aid. But that deal was put on hold last month after the North announced its rocket launch plans.

Earlier this week reports also emerged from South Korea of a possible third nuclear test being planned by North Korea.

North Korea conducted a similar rocket launch in 2009. On that occasion US and South Korea analysts said the rocket failed to reach orbit – but North Korea said it was a success.

The failure of this launch could pose a challenge for Pyongyang, which is holding a week of high-profile events ahead of the formal celebrations to mark Kim Il-Sung’s birthday on Sunday.

The Workers’ Party held a rare conference on Wednesday and the country’s rubber-stamp parliament is due to meet on Friday.

Both meetings are seen as formalizing the transition of power to young leader Kim Jong-Un following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.

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A privately-owned Cessna aircraft was intercepted by two fighter jets yesterday entering the same Los Angeles airspace as Marine One while the helicopter was ferrying President Barack Obama.

After the small plane landed at Long Beach Airport, police then discovered it contained about 40 pounds of marijuana, a law enforcement official said.

The Secret Service said President Obama was never in any danger, despite the emergency procedure to remove the unauthorized aircraft from “restricted airspace”.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said it scrambled two F-16 fighters from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, to intercept a Cessna 182 over Los Angeles at 2:30 p.m. local time.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Virginia Kice said the department’s Homeland Security Investigations unit questioned the pilot, who has been turned over to Long Beach police and remains in custody.

The pilot will now face local prosecution, Virginia Kice said.

The Secret Service said President Obama was never in any danger, despite the emergency procedure to remove the unauthorized aircraft from “restricted airspace”

The Secret Service said President Obama was never in any danger, despite the emergency procedure to remove the unauthorized aircraft from “restricted airspace”

NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek declined to disclose how close the Cessna came to Marine One.

The Federal Aviation Administration had notified pilots that there was an eight-mile radius around Los Angeles International Airport that was off-limits to air traffic yesterday.

It was that radius that the Cessna violated, spokesman Brie Sachse said.

Brie Sachse declined to release the Cessna’s tail number, saying the agency does not identify planes involved in security incidents.

After a short wait at LAX, Barack Obama took off aboard Air Force One to San Francisco – the flight was delayed by the appearance of the Cessna.

Barack Obama made it safely to San Francisco, where he was travelling to three fundraisers.

When he landed he met Jodi Fisher, a 44-year-old cancer patient who recently made headlines by handing out free ice cream in her hometown, which was on her “bucket list”.

Meeting Barack Obama was also on the list, so White House staff arranged for her to greet him at San Francisco airport.

Air Force One is the name for any U.S. Air Force aircraft which is carrying the President.