South Korean authorities on Friday moved to analyse the debris of a North Korean long-range rocket, launched earlier this week in defiance of repeated international warnings.
"The debris will be important material that can verify North Korean missile capability," Kim Min-seok, a spokesperson at the South's Defence Ministry said.
North Korea's Unha-3 rocket blasted off from a launch site Wednesday and put a satellite into orbit. Its first-stage booster broke into four pieces and dropped into the Yellow Sea in the South's territory.
A South Korean Navy rescue ship hauled the sunken debris aboard at 00:26 a.m. Friday.
The recovered object is 7.6 meters long, has a diameter of 2.4 meters and weighs 3.2 tons, the Defence Ministry said. It is inscribed with the word "Unha."
The South Korean team that will lead the analysis will likely consist of rocket and weapons experts, including those who worked on the South's troubled Naro-1 space rocket project, or Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1.
Buoyed by the successful satellite launch, North Korea said Friday that its leader Kim Jong-un had overseen the project himself and that the country would continue to launch satellites to boost the country's science, technology and economy.
A flurry of diplomacy is under way among members of the UN Security Council seeking punitive action against North Korea.
The council had condemned communist country Wednesday, tagging its action as a disguised test of an intercontinental ballistic missile and a violation of bans on nuclear activity.
South Korea and the US are spearheading discussions with an aim to add new, stronger sanctions to the council's existing blacklist. The 15-member council is expected to agree on an outline of its measures as early as next week.
The ongoing consultations will lead to a "clear and credible response to what the North Koreans have done," said Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US Department of State.
"We are working hard with the Chinese and with our other partners to make it clear that the international community is extremely concerned about this flagrant violation of international law," she told a regular briefing in Washington.