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Amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, the communist North appears to be preparing to test-fire a missile capable of reaching the US mainland, reports said Tuesday. North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile has a range of more than 4,100 miles, and scientists have been working to increase that to put the US West Coast within reach. Skeptics, however, said a launch now would make little sense unless relations with the new US administration deteriorate. Secretary of State Clinton is expected to visit rival South Korea at mid-month.

Another rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in a residential section of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, causing no casualties but bringing threats of even harsher retaliation from the Jewish state's leaders. The attack came as Israelis prepare to elect a new government this weekend, and on a visit to Ashkelon, Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu promised that "a government led by me will overthrow Hamas rule in Gaza."

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