Reuters wrote:North Korea raises alert for live-fire drill
(Reuters) - Secretive North Korea raised its military alert ahead of a live-fire artillery drill by rival South Korea Monday amid heightened tension on the peninsula during a delicate transition of power in the impoverished North.
The exercise, involving the use of mortars, some 5,000 rounds of ammunition and attack helicopters, took place near a disputed sea border off the west coast and near a South Korean island bombarded by the North after a similar drill in 2010.
South Korea said the drill, the second of its kind in the area this year, was routine and had passed without incident.
"The exercise took place normally according to plan. North Korea maintained a higher level of response posture than normal," the South's Yonhap news agency quoted a military official as saying.
The North's new young leader, Kim Jong-un, has taken a militaristic line in what analysts say is clearly an attempt to woo the backing of the powerful army as he tries to cement his grip on power as the third generation of the Kim dynasty.
Pyongyang had threatened "merciless retaliatory strikes" if the South violated its territorial waters during the exercise...(continued at link)
Reuters wrote:North Korea calls Seoul nuclear summit a "childish farce"
(Reuters) - Isolationist North Korea lashed out at its neighbour on Wednesday for hosting an international nuclear security summit in Seoul next month, calling it a "childish farce" and an "intolerable grave provocation."
The South has said Pyongyang can send a delegate to the conference involving some 50 world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, but insists the invitation is conditional on it renouncing its own nuclear programme...
...Pyongyang, subject to international sanctions for its nuclear weapons programme, has said it is willing to rejoin regional talks which offer the impoverished state aid in return for giving up its nuclear weapons programme.
Experts, however, doubt the North's new leadership has any intention of giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons because it sees them as a deterrent against attack and a negotiating chip.
North Korea and U.S. officials will meet in Beijing on Thursday for a third round of bilateral talks aimed restarting the regional "six-party" nuclear talks which broke down in 2009.
Glyn Davies, who will lead the talks for the U.S. side, said North Korea needed to show it was sincere, but that he was pleased the talks were happening so soon after the death of Kim Jong-il and appointment of his son Kim Jong-un as leader.
"What precisely his policies are, in what direction he wants to take his country -- all of these are a bit unknown at this stage," he told reporters in Beijing.
The Seoul nuclear security summit is focused on preventing nuclear terrorism and safeguarding nuclear materials and facilities.
The Telegraph wrote:North Korea agrees to stop nuclear tests
The United States said on Wednesday that North Korea has agreed to halt its nuclear programme and allow back UN inspectors, in a surprise breakthrough soon after the communist state's veteran leader died.
Welcoming the progress, President Barack Obama's administration said it would move ahead on a long-mulled plan to deliver 240,000 metric tons of food aid to the impoverished state which suffered a major famine in the 1990s.
But the agreement, reached after talks last week in Beijing, is certain to be met with scepticism in many quarters as North Korea has repeatedly agreed to end its nuclear programme only to renounce agreements when tensions rise.
"The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behaviour across a wide range of areas, but today's announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
Nuland said that North Korea – which has tested two nuclear weapons – has agreed to the return of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, at its main Yongbyon nuclear facility.
North Korea "has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities," she said...(continued at link)
TC wrote:This will definitely happen exactly like NK promised. Guaranteed. Absolutely going to do just what they say they will.
phil_in_cs wrote:TC wrote:This will definitely happen exactly like NK promised. Guaranteed. Absolutely going to do just what they say they will.
You track them closer than I do - how many times have they made this exact promise?
TC wrote:This will definitely happen exactly like NK promised. Guaranteed. Absolutely going to do just what they say they will.
shrapnel wrote:Also, if the internet did become self-aware, jesus fuck it would be largely devoted to porn, so I don't see that ending any way other than hilariously.
Reuters wrote:Fresh from deal with U.S., N.Korea vows "sacred war" on South
(Reuters) - North Korea threatened "sacred war" against the South in a huge rally in the capital Sunday just days after the secretive state agreed with the United States to suspend its nuclear weapons tests and allow back international nuclear inspectors.
Tens of thousands of slogan-chanting North Koreans rallied in Pyongyang vowing to "wipe out" South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's "traitors" whom they accused of defaming their new leader, Kim Jong-un, and of staging inflammatory war games with the United States.
About 150,000 protesters, including many soldiers and students, shouted "Destroy Lee Myung-bak" and "Let's safeguard Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un."
The rally, broadcast live by state TV, appeared to be the largest such event since the young Kim took power after the death of long-time dictator Kim Jong-il in December.
Ri Yong-ho, an army general believed to be one of the fledgling leader Kim's closest confidants in the army, recited a statement issued by the military Friday, threatening again to wage a "sacred war" against the South.
"The Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army solemnly declares once again that it will indiscriminately stage its own-style sacred war to wipe out the group of traitors," Ri read.
The rally ended with a series of military-style marches in groups of hundreds, with protesters waving huge banners and flags in response to cheers from the crowds...(continued at link)
You track them closer than I do - how many times have they made this exact promise?
TGC wrote:NORTH KOREA
* You have two sheep.
* Kim Jong-il eats them at a feast in his honour.
* You have no sheep and a hungry populace with no means to feed them.
* Kim Jong-il threatens/claims to step up his nuclear weapons program.
* The west supplies food and agricultural aid in return for Kim Jong-il stepping down his nuclear weapons program.
* You have two sheep.
Reuters wrote:U.N. nuclear inspectors prepare for North Korea return
(Reuters) - The United Nations nuclear watchdog is preparing for a possible return to North Korea three years after its inspectors were expelled from the Asian state, but is not yet in direct contact with Pyongyang, its chief said on Monday.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he needed clarification about an agreement to suspend key parts of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme that it and Washington announced last week.
"We do not have yet an invitation from North Korea," the veteran Japanese diplomat told a news conference.
"We want to know what was actually agreed between the United States and North Korea and then we have to identify the details of our possible activities in North Korea."
In last week's announcement, North Korea said it would suspend nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and enrichment of uranium at its Yongbyon nuclear facility and allow back international nuclear inspectors.
It was part of a deal with the United States that could see the eventual resumption of nuclear disarmament talks that broke down in 2008. The United States, in turn, pledged to resume food aid to the isolated and impoverished country.
It was unclear how much scope for inspections the Vienna-based U.N. agency would get. The North has limited their access during two previous periods when it allowed inspectors in.
Sceptical Western analysts have said North Korea may simply continue covert atomic activity elsewhere. Members of a U.N. expert panel said last year that North Korea most likely had several more undisclosed enrichment-related facilities.
Amano said "intensive consultations" were needed with Pyongyang and he did not rule out sending a high-level IAEA mission to the country for that purpose.
"We don't have direct contact with them but we are preparing for a possible return to Yongbyon," he said, adding that the agency's three-year absence from North Korea meant that it only had "limited" knowledge about its nuclear programme...(continued at link)
Reuters wrote:North Korea says to launch long-range rocket to mark founder's birth
(Reuters) - North Korea said on Friday it will launch a "working" satellite to mark the centenary of founder Kim Il-sung's birth next month, prompting immediate fears from Japan it would in fact be another long-range missile launch in breach of a U.N. resolution.
In April 2009, a long-range missile test failed when its first stage fell into the Sea of Japan without orbiting a satellite, provoking outrage in Tokyo, which had threatened to shoot down any debris or rocket that threatened its territory.
Another test failed in similar circumstances in 1998.
Experts said the latest launch was clearly another long-range missile test, designed to pressure Washington into advancing stalled nuclear disarmament negotiations.
The North, which said recently it would suspend long-range missile testing as part of talks with the United States, said on Friday it had already launched two experimental satellites.
Japan's Foreign Ministry said the new launch would be a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, according to Jiji news service. There was no immediate comment from officials in Seoul about the latest rocket launch.
Foreign officials have also said the secretive state's past launches are disguised long-range missile tests. The North said it would be a satellite launched southwards from a base near its west coast and would have no impact on neighbouring countries, saying the launch was for "peaceful purposes".
"The DPRK is to launch a working satellite, Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by itself with indigenous technology to mark the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il-sung," the North's official KCNA said, quoting a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology.
The launch will take place between April 12-16, KCNA said. It is scheduled to occur at around the same time its foes in the South hold a parliamentary election, and just over three weeks after a global nuclear security summit in Seoul..(continued at link)
Reuters wrote:Defiant North Korea says rocket launch to go ahead
(Reuters) - North Korea on Sunday rejected criticism of its planned long-range missile launch which threatens to upset its only major benefactor, China, and put relations with the United States back in the freezer just as they seemed to be starting to thaw.
Political analysts say the launch, which would violate U.N. resolutions on the heavily sanctioned state, is aimed at boosting the legitimacy of its young new ruler Kim Jong-un who inherited power after his father's death in December.
"The peaceful development and use of space is a universally recognized legitimate right of a sovereign state," the North's state KCNA news agency said.
North Korea says it is using the rocket to launch a satellite to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country's founding ruler and grandfather of the current ruler.
The United States, and others, say it is much the same as a ballistic missile test and therefore off-limits for the isolated state which has for years been trying to build a nuclear arsenal.
Washington, which last month agreed to supply North Korea with food in exchange for a suspension of nuclear tests, missile launches and uranium enrichment and to allow nuclear inspectors into the country, called the planned launch "highly provocative".
More troubling perhaps for Pyongyang, which is long accustomed to trading invective with Washington, Beijing called the planned launch a "worry" in a rare attempt to put public pressure on its impoverished ally...(continued at link)
Yonhap wrote:U.S. says food aid 'hard to imagine' if N.K. launches satellite
WASHINGTON, March 16 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. State Department said Friday it will be "very hard to imagine" giving planned food aid to North Korea if the communist regime goes ahead with its plan to launch a satellite, a move seen as a disguise for a missile test.
"Were we to have a launch, it would create, obviously, tensions," department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. "And that would make the implementation of any kind of a nutritional agreement quite difficult."
North Korea said earlier in the day that it will launch an earth observation satellite aboard a long-range rocket next month. The announcement came just weeks after Pyongyang agreed to temporarily put a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests and freeze its uranium-enrichment facilities in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid from the U.S.
"If they were to go forward with this launch, it's very hard to imagine how we would be able to move forward with a regime whose word we have no confidence in and who has egregiously violated its international commitments," Nuland said, referring to United Nations Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from using its ballistic missile program...(continued at link)
BBC wrote:Obama warns North Korea against missile test launch
US President Barack Obama has warned North Korea that it will "achieve nothing by threats or by provocations".
The warning comes as Pyongyang prepares to launch a long-range missile which it says will put a satellite in orbit.
Mr Obama was speaking after talks in Seoul with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, ahead of global summit on nuclear security.
The two leaders said North Korea risked further sanctions and isolation if it did not cancel its launch plans.
Mr Obama said Washington and Seoul were "absolutely united" that "bad behaviour" by North Korea would not be rewarded.
"North Korea knows its obligations and it must take irreversible steps to meet those obligations," he said.
The launch will contravene an agreement Pyongyang reached last month which would have seen it receive food aid in exchange for a partial freeze on nuclear activities and an end to ballistics tests.
Mr Lee, who spoke alongside Mr Obama, said their countries had "agreed to respond sternly to any provocations and threats by the North and to continually enhance the firm South Korea-US defence readiness".
But he said the international community stood ready to help North Korea improve the lives of its citizens if it chose a path of peace.
Mr Obama also criticised China, saying its refusal to challenge North Korea on the nuclear issue was not working as a policy.
In response to questions from journalists, the two leaders said it was hard to make an assessment of North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, who came to power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December.
Mr Obama said it was "not clear exactly who is calling the shots" in North Korea and what their long-term objectives were, while Mr Lee said the planned rocket launch was a "disappointment".
The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul says there had been hopes that the US aid deal and a new, young leader were indications the crisis could be moving towards resolution, but that with the announcement of the missile test, those hopes have gone.
The launch is scheduled for 12-16 April, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country late Great Leader Kim Il-sung.
South Korean defence officials say the main body of the rocket has now been moved to the launch site in preparation...(continued at link)
Reuters wrote:North Korea test fires short-range missiles - reports
(Reuters) - North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its west coast on Thursday believed to be part of a test to upgrade capabilities, said news reports published on Friday, quoting South Korean military officials.
North Korea has raised tensions in recent weeks by announcing it would launch a rocket to put a satellite into orbit, but regional powers are urging Pyongyang to drop the plan, saying it would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
North Korea launched two short-range missiles believed to be surface-to-ship missiles from its west coast Thursday morning, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted government officials as saying.
"The launch is believed to be to upgrade missile capabilities and not related directly to the North's long-range missile launch," the newspaper quoted a military official as saying.
Another mainstream newspaper JoongAng Ilbo published a similar report.
South Korea's office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to confirm the reports, citing its policy of not speaking publicly on matters involving intelligence activities.
Reuters wrote:Japan goes off script at nuclear summit to slam North Korea
(Reuters) - Japan steered off the agenda at a nuclear security summit on Tuesday to hit out at North Korea's plans for a rocket launch next month, as U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned against complacency in dealing with the threat of nuclear terrorism.
A communiqué issued at the end of the two-day meeting of more than 50 world leaders in Seoul was light on specifics on how to reduce the risk of atomic materials falling into bad hands, loosely calling for all vulnerable material to be secured in four years.
The world's biggest nuclear concerns, those surrounding the weapons programmes of North Korea and Iran, were not on the agenda at the summit, and neither country was invited.
The secretive North has been widely criticised on the sidelines of the meeting, including by main ally China, but host Seoul has explicitly stated Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction programmes were off the table during the summit itself.
The forum is meant to deal only with safeguarding nuclear materials and facilities and preventing trafficking.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ignored protocol and urged the international community to strongly demand North Korea exercise self-restraint over next month's planned rocket launch.
"The planned missile launch North Korea recently announced would go against the international community's nuclear non-proliferation effort and violate U.N. Security Council resolutions," Noda said in an opening speech.
No other major leaders mentioned North Korea's nuclear ambitions or the ballistic missile launch which Pyongyang says will carry a weather satellite into orbit. The West says the launch is a disguised test of a long-range missile designed to reach the American mainland.
North Korea said last week it would consider it a "provocation" if its "nuclear issue is placed on the agenda at the Seoul summit" and if any statement is issued against the North for pursuing such a programme...(continued at link)
BBC wrote:US confirms it has suspended North Korea food aid plans
The US has confirmed it has suspended planned food aid to North Korea.
The decision comes after Pyongyang announced a new rocket launch, which the United States says breaks the terms of a deal agreed last month.
Earlier reports that the food aid plans had been put on hold were confirmed by a Pentagon official on Wednesday.
Peter Lavoy told lawmakers North Korea had violated a missile test moratorium agreement and could not be trusted to deliver the aid properly.
Under the deal signed in February, North Korea agreed to a partial freeze in nuclear activities and a missile test moratorium in return for US food aid.
Mr Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific affairs, told a government committee that next month's planned rocket launch "reflects [North Korea's] lack of desire to follow through on their international commitments and so we've been forced to suspend our activities to provide nutritional assistance"...(continued at link)
BBC wrote:Obama and Hu to co-ordinate on North Korea rocket launch
China and the US have agreed to co-ordinate their response to any "potential provocation" if North Korea goes ahead with a planned rocket launch, the White House says.
North Korea says the long-range rocket will carry a satellite. The US says any launch would violate UN resolutions and be a missile test.
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao met on the margins of a nuclear summit in South Korea.
The launch is scheduled for April...(continued at link)
SeerSavant wrote:I'm starting to think this guy's either a short sighted ideologue who drank his dad's KoolAide, or they simply have a longer term game at manipulating the international community.
TC wrote:SeerSavant wrote:I'm starting to think this guy's either a short sighted ideologue who drank his dad's KoolAide, or they simply have a longer term game at manipulating the international community.
More likely, IMHO, that he isn't really in charge. I find it more plausible that the senior regime members are really running the show and that he is more of a symbolic head for continuity's sake than anything else. Essentially the DPRK is now a regency.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-raises-stakes-with-north-korea-well-shoot-down-your-missile-test-launch-7604064.htmlTokyo has upped the ante in a looming face-off over North Korea's planned rocket launch next month by vowing to shoot it down if it threatens Japanese territory.
TardArm wrote:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-raises-stakes-with-north-korea-well-shoot-down-your-missile-test-launch-7604064.htmlTokyo has upped the ante in a looming face-off over North Korea's planned rocket launch next month by vowing to shoot it down if it threatens Japanese territory.
SeerSavant wrote:TardArm wrote:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-raises-stakes-with-north-korea-well-shoot-down-your-missile-test-launch-7604064.htmlTokyo has upped the ante in a looming face-off over North Korea's planned rocket launch next month by vowing to shoot it down if it threatens Japanese territory.
Korea Herald wrote:N.K. submarines drop below Seoul’s radar
Several North Korean submarines have disappeared after departing from bases on the eastern coast.
According to reports, three or four North Korean submarines recently departed from bases on the east coast and have since remained outside South Korean surveillance.
The submarines are thought to be 370-ton shark-class vessels. The North Korean submarine used in the attack on the Cheonan in March 2010 was a 130-ton salmon-class vessel. North Korea has between 70 and 80 submarines ranging from 1,500-ton vessels to 130-ton vessels. Of the total, 80 percent are said to be based in the East Sea, where the waters are deeper than the West Sea, providing better conditions for submarine operations.
“North Korea appears to be increasing submarine infiltration exercises with the weather getting warmer. However, the possibility that drills could hide provocations has not been ruled out and related activities are being closely monitored,” an unnamed military source was quoted as saying by a local daily. The Navy’s public relations department did not confirm the reports...(continued at link)
Yonhap wrote:N. Korea says interception of its satellite is an act of war
SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ratcheted up his regime's militaristic rhetoric as Pyongyang threatened to retaliate against any country that intercepts a North Korean rocket booster or collects the rocket debris.
The North has vowed to launch a rocket sometime between April 12 and 16 to put an earth observation satellite into orbit, a move widely seen as a pretext to disguise a banned test of its ballistic missile technology.
The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea in Pyongyang warned that interception of the satellite would be "an act of war" and would cause a tremendous catastrophe.
Whoever "intercepts the satellite or collects its debris will meet immediate, resolute and merciless punishment" from the North, the committee said in an English-language statement carried by its Korean Central News Agency late Thursday.
The warning came days after South Korea said it was exploring measures to intercept the rocket booster in case it veers off its trajectory. Japan has also ordered its troops to shoot down the rocket if there is concern it or parts of it could land on Japan.
South Korea expects the rocket's first-stage booster to land in international waters, some 170 kilometers south of its southwestern city of Gunsan, before the rocket's second stage booster falls east of the Philippines.
The North has said it chose a safe flight path to ensure carrier rocket debris jettisoned during the flight will not impact on neighboring countries.
The statement also warned South Korea against any provocation, noting any attack by Seoul on Pyongyang would mean the "end of everything in South Korea."
South Korea is within striking distance of North Korea's missiles. Seoul, the South Korean capital city of more than 10 million people, is also within range of North Korea's conventional artillery.
North Korea "will mete out the unimaginable and the most miserable punishment to its rival if it dares fire into the sky above the (North), Pyongyang, in particular," the statement said.
The North's threat came after South Korea vowed it would attack the North's capital in retaliation if the communist country strikes Seoul.
South Korea has set up a policy of tit-for-tat retaliation in dealing with possible aggression by the North against Seoul and adjacent areas.
South Korea came under public fire for its weak response to the North's deadly shelling of a South Korean western border island in November 2010.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim has also ordered his troops to bury the nation's enemies at sea if they "dare intrude into the territorial waters" of the North. Kim made the comment during his inspection trip to a navy unit that seized a U.S. spy ship, Pueblo, in 1968, the KCNA said in a dispatch on Friday.
Kim, who took over the country following his father Kim Jong-il's death in December, issued the same order during a separate tour to an islet on the east coast in recent days.
Kim "set forth the tasks for rounding off combat preparations and bolstering the combat capability," the dispatch said.
Reuters wrote:North Korea planning third nuclear test - Yonhap
(Reuters) - North Korea, pressing ahead with a rocket launch in defiance of a UN resolution, is also preparing a third nuclear weapons test, South Korean news reports said on Sunday, a move bound to scare neighbours and infuriate the West.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified intelligence source as saying North Korea was "clandestinely preparing a nuclear test" at the same location as the first two.
The source added that workers in the destitute North had been seen in commercial satellite images digging a tunnel in the northeastern town of Punggye-ri, Kilju County, in addition to existing mines believed to have been used for tests in 2006 and 2009.
"We have confirmed the (mining) work is coming to its final stage," the source was quoted as saying.
The satellite imagery showed piles of earth and sand at the entrance of the tunnel, Yonhap said.
North Korea, which three years ago pulled out of six-party disarmament talks on its nuclear programme, agreed in February to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches in return for food aid, opening the way to a possible resumption of the negotiations.
But that has all since unravelled with the North's rocket launch planned for this month, probably between Thursday and the following Monday. The North says it is merely sending a weather satellite into space, but South Korea and the United States say it is a ballistic missile test.
Two previous launches of the long-range missile have failed, but Washington says the North's missile programme is progressing quickly and that the American mainland could come under threat within five years.
U.S. President Barack Obama last month called on North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions or face further international isolation.
He said North Korea could be hit with tighter sanctions if it goes ahead with the launch, but experts doubt China will back another U.N. Security Council resolution against it.
China, Japan and South Korea, three of the "six parties" along with the United States and the two Koreas, on Sunday expressed concern over the planned launch.
The foreign ministers of the three countries, ending their annual meeting with a joint news conference in the coastal Chinese city of Ningbo, largely stuck to established positions.
"China expresses our concern for the development of the situation and urges all relevant parties to take into consideration the bigger picture and think long-term," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said.
Obama has urged China to use its influence to rein in North Korea instead of "turning a blind eye" to its "deliberate provocations".
Japan and South Korea reiterated warnings that Pyongyang would face international consequences if it went ahead with the launch.
"I made it clear that the international community needs to make rigorous responses against North Korea's violation of its obligation as a member country in the world community," South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said the launch would roll back progress Pyongyang has made in talks with various countries, including with the United States, which has suspended the planned food aid.
BBC wrote:North Korea moves rocket into place for launch
North Korea has moved into place a long-range rocket for a controversial launch later this month - amid reports it is also planning a nuclear test.
Pyongyang says the Unha-3 rocket, which it plans to launch between 12 and 16 April, will put a satellite into orbit.
But opponents of the move fear it is a disguised long-range missile test...
...Foreign journalists were taken by train to the Sohae satellite station at Tongchang-ri, on the country's north-west coast, to see for themselves the final preparations for the rocket launch.
All three stages of the rocket were visibly in position at the launch pad, an Associated Press reporter said from the scene.
Station manager Jang Myong-jim told reporters that preparations were on track and fueling would begin soon, without giving exact timings.
He said the 100kg (220 pound) satellite is designed to send back images and information that will be used for weather forecasts as well as surveys of North Korea's natural resources, the AP reports.
Pyongyang has previously said the launch, for "peaceful purposes", is to mark the centennial of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-sung.
But the United States and North Korea's neighbours say it contravenes UN resolutions that were imposed after a similar launch in April 2009.
Japan and South Korea have warned they will shoot the rocket down if it strays into their territory.
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