North Korea plans rocket launch

Dec. 1, 2012 at 6:30 PM
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PYONGYANG, North Korea, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- North Korea says it is planning to launch a rocket carrying a satellite in mid-December.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said the Unha-3 rocket will launch from the Sohae Space Center in North Phyongan province between Dec. 10 and 22, CNN reported Saturday.

The rocket will pull a "working satellite" into orbit, which will be used for "polar-orbiting Earth observation," the Korean Committee for Space Technology said.

The launch announcement comes just months after the North's failed launch attempt in April. Officials said they have analyzed the mistakes made in April, when the rocket broke apart shortly after takeoff, and have worked to improve the reliability and precision of the satellite and carrier rocket, the Korean news agency reported.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade expressed "serious concern" over the upcoming launch.

"The launch is a severe provocation as it is ignoring the concern and warning from the international community and is a direct challenge to the international community as a whole," the South said.

The United States says the planned North Korean launch "would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region."

The U.S. State Department issued a statement Saturday saying any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology would be in direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874.

"Devoting scarce resources to the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles will only further isolate and impoverish North Korea," the State Department said. "The path to security for North Korea lies in investing in its people and abiding by its commitments and international obligations."

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