N. Korea to launch satellite

TUESDAY, FEB. 24, 2009

U.S. suspects test disguise for missile

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said today it is preparing to shoot a satellite into orbit, its clearest reference yet to an impending launch that neighbors and the U.S. suspect will be a provocative test of a long-range missile.

The statement from the North’s space technology agency comes amid growing international concern that the communist nation is gearing up to fire a version of its most advanced missile – one capable of reaching the U.S. – within a week, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

North Korea asserted last week that it bears the right to “space development” – words the regime has used in the past to disguise a missile test.

The report did not say when the launch would take place.

Hwadae is believed to be the launch site for North Korea’s longest-range missile, the Taepodong-2, which has the capability of reaching Alaska. Reports suggest the missile being readied for launch could be an advanced version of the Taepodong-2 with even greater range: the U.S. West Coast.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the North to stop its “provocative actions,” saying a missile test would “be very unhelpful in moving our relationship forward.”

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said any launch – whether a satellite or a missile – would be a breach of the U.N. resolution.

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