Friday, March 16, 2012

North Korea plans to launch long-range rocket

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- North Korea announced plans Friday to blast a satellite into space on the back of a long-range rocket, a provocative move that could jeopardize a weeks-old agreement with the U.S. exchanging food aid for nuclear concessions.

The North agreed to a moratorium on long-range launches as part of the deal with Washington, but it argues that its satellite launches are part of a peaceful space program that is exempt from any international disarmament agreements. The U.S., South Korea and other critics say the rocket technology overlaps with belligerent uses and condemn the satellite program as a disguised way of testing 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.

The U.S. had no immediate reaction to the latest announcement. But Japan urged Pyongyang to abandon the launch, calling it a violation of a U.N. resolution restricting the North's use of ballistic missile technology, and South Korea's Foreign Ministry called the plans a "grave provocation." Read More