South Korean conservative protesters participate in an anti-North Korea rally reacting to North Korea launching the long-range missile on December 12, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. - 

North Korea has successfully launched a rocket into orbit. The secretive communist country says the rocket put a weather satellite into space but there are concerns that the technology could help North Korea develop a nuclear warhead.

The U.S. insists the rocket launch violates a United Nations resolution banning North Korea from testing long-range missile technology and had warned Pyongyang not to go ahead with a planned launch.

The BBC's correspondent in Seoul, Lucy Williamson, says there are already a range of economic sanctions on North Korea but they don't appear to have worked. Even China, which is Pyongyang's only major ally, is failing to have any influence over North Korea when it comes to events like this.

Japan has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which could take place later today.

But Williamson says it will be very difficult for them to introduce further economic sanctions which would have a significant effect.

"What we believe the Security Council will be considering is whether to expand the sanctions on specific companies; specific people in North Korea," she says. "Individual countries like the United States, for example, already have much wider sanctions on North Korea than the Security Council can get passed -- and then of course you have to impose them."

The launch has been seen as particularly provocative because it comes a week ahead of the South Korean presidential election.

See the North Korean state television broadcast of the rocket launch.