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North Korea vows to shoot down US spy planes, upping threats

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREANorth Korea has a warning for US spy planes: Stop circling the site of the missile the North is planning to launch.

“Should US warplanes dare to perpetrate aerial espionage,” North Korea’s state radio warned Wednesday, “our revolutionary forces will shoot them down.” Spy flights, the broadcast made plain, “would be interfering with our preparations for a satellite launch for peaceful purposes.”

The warning reflects North Korea’s insistence that the long-range missile on the launch pad near the northeastern coast will put a satellite into orbit.

But American, South Korean, and Japanese officials say that the real purpose is to test the missile’s ability to deliver a nuclear warhead as far as Alaska or Hawaii.

North Korea accuses the US and South Korea of conducting at least 190 aerial espionage flights over it territory last month. While the number may be exaggerated, experts say such flights are routine.

“North Korea is very sensitive to them,” says Choi Jin-wook, senior research fellow at the Korea Institute of National Unification. By "warning they might fire, they are showing their anger.”

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