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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

N.Korea to launch rocket on April 4 - Japanese media

RIA Novosti

20/03/2009 14:14 TOKYO, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea's planned launch of a rocket that it says will deliver a satellite into orbit will take place on April 4, Japanese news agency Jiji Press reported on Friday.

The secretive communist state earlier announced plans to launch the communications satellite between April 4 and 8. The U.S. and South Korea have accused the North of using the launch as an excuse to test-fire a long-range missile.

The Japanese agency cited diplomats in Beijing as saying the launch will go ahead on April 4 barring adverse weather conditions or last-minute repairs.

The North earlier said the first stage of the carrier rocket would fall into the Sea of Japan, and the second stage into the Pacific Ocean.

Japan has warned that it could position interceptor missiles, to shoot down any North Korean missiles threatening its territory.

The communist state announced plans last month to launch a satellite using a three-stage rocket from the newly constructed Musudan-ri launch pad on the country's northeast coast.

Seoul and Washington say the country will be testing a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, thought to have a range of 6,700 kilometers (4,100 miles), which could potentially reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii.

Pyongyang first tested a long-range missile in 1998, when it launched a Taepodong-1 over northern Japan, claiming that it carried a domestically-developed satellite.

In 2002, Pyongyang and Tokyo agreed to a moratorium on missile tests, but the secretive regime has continued research on ballistic missile technology.

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1718 on October 14, 2006, which forbids North Korea from conducting further nuclear tests or launches of ballistic missiles.

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