North Korea has sent up a rocket it says is carrying a satellite, despite international appeals not to go ahead with the launch.
Its neighbours and Western powers have responded with strongly worded statements.
UNITED STATES-EUROPEAN COUNCIL JOINT STATEMENT
North Korea's development of a ballistic missile capability, regardless of the stated purpose of this launch, is aimed at providing it with the ability to threaten countries near and far with weapons of mass destruction.
This action demands a response from the international community, including from the UN Security Council, to demonstrate that its resolutions cannot be defied with impunity.
The United States and the European Union stand ready to work with others in welcoming into the international community a North Korea that abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and policy of threats aimed at its neighbours and that protects the rights of its people.
SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN LEE DONG-KWAN
The government cannot but express disappointment and regret over North Korea's reckless act of firing a long-range rocket, which poses a serious threat to security on the Korean peninsula and the world.
The government will deal firmly and resolutely with North Korea's provocative act.
SOUTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER YU MYUNG-HWAN
Regardless of any North Korean claims, this is provocative activity which threatens stability and peace on the Korean peninsula and in north-east Asia.
The government expresses grave concern as North Korea went ahead with the launch despite calls by the governments of South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia for cancellation of its planned launch.
JAPANESE CHIEF CABINET SPOKESMAN TAKEO KAWAMURA
North Korea's launch is extremely regrettable. We will strongly protest against North Korea.
Even if a satellite was launched, we see this as a ballistic missile test and we think this matter should be taken to the United Nations Security Council.
We are highly concerned by this matter.
STATEMENT FROM US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
The launch today of a Taepodong-2 missile was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which expressly prohibits North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities of any kind.
With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations.
We will immediately consult with our allies in the region, including Japan and the Republic of Korea, and members of the UN Security Council to bring this matter before the Council. I urge North Korea to abide fully by the resolutions of the UN Security Council and to refrain from further provocative actions.
STATEMENT FROM UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
The secretary general regrets that, against strong international appeal, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) went ahead with its planned launch.
Given the volatility in the region, as well as a stalemate in interaction among the concerned parties, such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability.
CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN JIANG YU
We have noted that North Korea carried out a launch this morning, and we have also noted the reaction of relevant parties.
We hope relevant parties will remain calm and restrained, handle the situation properly, and together maintain peace and stability in the region.
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL
We are examining whether this is a violation of the corresponding United Nations Security Council resolutions and we call on all sides to refrain from actions which could cause an escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER
This launch will only deepen concern about North Korea in the region and beyond, and complicate the six-party talks.
I call on North Korea to cease such provocative actions and to respect immediately a moratorium on all long-range missile launches.
STATEMENT FROM CZECH EU PRESIDENCY
These actions place additional strains on regional stability at a time when the unresolved nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula requires mutual confidence building.
UK FOREIGN SECRETARY DAVID MILIBAND
I strongly urge North Korea to cease immediately all further missile-related activity and commit to engaging constructively with international partners, in particular through the Six Party Talks process.