The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 1, 2012

North Korea says it will launch long-range rocket soon

(Continued)

He added that a successful rocket launch would raise North Korea's bargaining power with South Korea and the United States "because it means the country is closer to developing missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads."

Before its last two rocket launches, North Korea notified the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization about its intentions to launch. IMO spokeswoman Natasha Brown said that as of Friday the organization had not been notified by North Korea.

The North's announcement comes two days after South Korea canceled what would have been the launch of its first satellite from its own territory. Scientists in Seoul cited technical difficulties. South Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the North's planned launch is "a grave provocation and a head-on challenge to the international community."

North Korea's missile and nuclear programs will be a challenge for Obama in his second term and for the incoming South Korean leader. Washington's most recent attempt to negotiate a freeze of the North's nuclear program and a test moratorium in exchange for food aid collapsed with the April launch.

In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he would coordinate with the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia in strongly urging the North to refrain from the rocket launch.

The Korean Peninsula remains in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Washington stations nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea as a buttress against any North Korean aggression. Tens of thousands more are in nearby Japan.

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