A senior North Korean diplomat insisted Tuesday that his country launched a peaceful satellite, not a missile, and warned the UN Security Council that Pyongyang will retaliate with "strong steps" if it takes action.
North Korea's deputy UN ambassador Pak Tok Hun accused the Security Council of being "undemocratic" by targeting the reclusive communist nation while allowing many other countries to launch satellites.
The United States identified the rocket launched by North Korea on Sunday as a Taepo-dong 2 missile which failed to achieve orbit but traveled 3,100 kilometers - twice as far as anything the North previously sent up - before landing in the Pacific Ocean. North Korea claims the rocket launch shot a satellite into space, from where it allegedly is playing melodious odes to the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, and his late father, who founded the northeast Asian nation.
"This is satellite," Pak insisted. "Everyone can distinguish satellite with a missile. It's not a missile. I know most of the countries they understand, and they now recognize it was not missile."