Friday, March 16, 2012

North Korea plans to launch long-range rocket

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea plans to blast a satellite into space next month to mark the centenary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung, which the U.S. quickly called a "deal-breaker" for a new agreement where the U.S. would exchange food aid for nuclear concessions.

After Friday's surprise announcement, the United States said it is "very hard to imagine" it could go through with the exchange if the launch of the long-range rocket took place, and U.N. Security Council members said it may violate sanctions.

The North agreed to a moratorium on long-range launches as part of the food deal with Washington, but argues that satellite launches are part of a peaceful space program that is exempt from international disarmament obligations. The U.S., South Korea and other critics say the rocket technology overlaps with belligerent uses and condemn the satellite program as a disguised test of military missiles in defiance of a U.N. ban.

The launch is to take place three years after a similar launch in April 2009 drew widespread censure.


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