Bamboozled? North Korea launched a long-range rocket Wednesday morning local time, despite announcing earlier this week that it will push back deployment until the end of December. The launch was confirmed by South Korea’s defense ministry, and officials say it is now in orbit. While North Korea claims the rocket is an exploratory bid to put a satellite into space, critics say its true goal is to experiment with technology that could lead to mounting a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile. Both Japan and South Korea put their armed forces on high alert, though Japan did not make an attempt to intercept the missile, as they had suggested they would. A senior U.S. official said Washington has "noted" the launch and is monitoring the situation.