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North Korea preps for rocket launch despite international warnings

Many are concerned that North Korea's rocket launch is cover for developing the technology to attach a nuclear warhead to a long-range missile capable of going as far as Hawaii, Alaska, or the US West Coast.


In this April 8 file photo, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket stands at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea said Saturday, Dec. 1, it will launch a long-range rocket between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22.

David Guttenfelder/AP/File

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North Korea appears certain to fire a long-range rocket this month in defiance of appeals by friends and foes alike to give up the plan in the interests of regional stability.

In what's widely seen as another intimidating display of military potential, the North has announced it will launch the rocket sometime between Dec. 10 and Dec.  22. North Korea has notified the International Maritime Organization of the anticipated trajectory of the rocket, which will drop its first stage over the Yellow Sea west of South Korea and its second stage near the Philippines, and analysts see little prospect of any change of plans.

The pressure on North Korea’s “supreme leader” Kim Jong-un to assert his authority over military leaders also appears to be a motivating factor, ahead of the first anniversary Dec. 17 of the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. As chairman of the national defense commission, Kim Jong-il had consolidated his power and won the loyalty of generals whom his son has largely replaced amid questions about his real grip over the North's sprawling military establishment.

“Domestically, North Korea wants to promote national solidarity,” says Choi Jin-wook, North Korea expert at the Korean Institute of National Unification in Seoul.


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