A month after it claimed a successful hydrogen bomb test, North Korea announced it had successfully put a satellite into orbit, "legitimately exercising the right to use space for independent and peaceful purposes".

The development was hailed by Pyongyang as an 'epochal event' but the rocket launch was widely condemned as a ballistic missile test for a weapons delivery system to strike the US mainland.

The US strongly condemned North Korea's launch of the long-range rocket, describing the move by the hermit nation as "destabilising and provocative."

"The United States strongly condemns today's missile launch by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) -- a flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions related to its use of ballistic missile technology," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

On January 6, Pyongyang claimed to have successfully detonated a powerful hydrogen bomb, prompting South Korea and Japan to demand fresh round of punitive sanctions on the country.

Kerry said the US will stand with its allies, including South Korea and Japan, and will hold the DPRK to account.

China 'expressed regret' over North Korea's rocket launch after Pyongyang said it successfully put a satellite into orbit. China is North Korea's sole major ally and main trading partner but ties between the two have been strained in recent years due to Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

Russia, considered of being soft on North Korea, also condemned the move, saying it was a serious blow to regional security including that of Pyongyang.

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