N. Korea prepares to launch rocket

New York Times News Service /

Published Dec 2, 2012 at 04:00AM

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Saturday it would try to launch another long-range rocket later this month, as the country prepares to commemorate the death a year ago of its longtime ruler Kim Jong Il, and as his son, Kim Jong Un, works to bolster his credentials as a leader.

The launching, which North Korea said would take place between Dec. 10 and 22, is likely to prompt international condemnations and heighten tensions with Washington and its allies. Critics consider North Korea’s launching of a Unha-3 rocket a cover for testing technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles that could eventually be used to carry nuclear weapons.

In a previous effort in April, a rocket blasted off from the launching site on the west coast near China only to disintegrate shortly afterward, failing in its goal of putting an Earth-observation satellite into orbit.

Saturday’s announcement came at a delicate time in the region. South Korea is gearing up for a presidential election Dec. 19, and Japan plans parliamentary elections Dec. 16.

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