North Korea has said it will launch a long-range rocket between
10 and 22 December, a move likely to heighten already strained tensions
with Washington and Seoul ahead of a South Korean presidential election
on 19 December.
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 comes several weeks after President Barack
Obama was elected to a second term in the United States and ahead of his
Washington considers North Korea's rocket tests to be veiled covers for tests of long-range missile technology banned by the United Nations.
An unnamed spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology said North Korea had "analysed the mistakes" made in a failed April launch and improved the precision of the rocket and satellite, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. The April launch broke up shortly after liftoff, but quickly drew condemnation from the United Nations, Washington, Seoul and other capitals.
The North's statement said a rocket carrying a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite will blast off southward from its northwest coastal space center.
The United States has criticized North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as a threat to Asian and world security.
North Korea under its young leader has pledged to bolster its nuclear arsenal unless Washington scraps what Pyongyang calls a hostile policy.