N Korea to test long-range rocket again
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North Korea announced Saturday that it would attempt to launch a long-range rocket in mid-December, a defiant move just eight months after a failed April bid was widely condemned as a violation of a UN ban against developing its nuclear and missile programmes.
The launch, set between December 10 and 22, is likely to heighten already strained tensions with Washington and Seoul as the United States prepares for Barack Obama's second term as US president and South Korea holds its own presidential election on December 19.
This would be North Korea's second launch attempt under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power following his father Kim Jong Il's death nearly a year ago.
The announcement by North Korea's space agency followed speculation overseas about stepped-up activity at North Korea's west coast launch pad captured in satellite imagery.
A spokesman for North Korea's Korean Committee for Space Technology said scientists have "analyzed the mistakes" made in the failed April launch and improved the precision of its Unha rocket and Kwangmyongsong satellite, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
KCNA said the launch was a request of late leader Kim Jong Il, whose December 17, 2011, death North Koreans are expected to mark with some fanfare. The space agency said the rocket would be mounted with a polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite, and maintained its right to develop a peaceful space programme.
Washington considers North Korea's rocket launches to be veiled covers for tests of technology for long-range missiles designed to strike the United States, and such tests are banned by the United Nations.
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