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North Korean Officials Say All Preparations Done For Launch


A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the rocket on a launch pad northwest of Pyongyang.

A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the rocket on a launch pad northwest of Pyongyang.

North Korean officials say all preparations for this week's planned satellite launch have been completed.

During a rare news conference attended by foreign journalists on April 10 in Pyongyang, North Korean officials said that the launch would go ahead as planned as part of birthday commemorations for the late President Kim Il Sung.

Nuclear-armed North Korea had announced it planned to launch a satellite sometime from April 12-16 to mark the centenary of Kim's birth.

North Korea insists the launch is a peaceful space project, but the United States and South Korea view it as a disguised missile test in breach of UN resolutions.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed the matter with South Korea's Defense Minister by telephone on April 9.

Earlier, the United States urged North Korea not to conduct a nuclear test or launch a satellite and called upon China to exert its influence over its neighbor to try to ward off such "provocative actions."

South Korean media reports said North Korea is also preparing a third nuclear test.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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