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DPRK launches rocket

SOUTH Korean presidential office and the US State Department today confirmed DPRK's rocket launch at 11:30 am local time (0230 GMT).

Japan said the rocket has passed over its territory and it did not try to intercept the rocket. There is no report of damages in Japan.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced yesterday that it would soon launch communications satellite "Kwangmyongsong-2", according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Pyongyang noticed international agencies that it would launch a communications satellite anytime between 11 am and 4 pm (0200 GMT and 0700 GMT) from April 4 to 8.

The DPRK declared on Feb. 24 that it was going to launch a communications satellite as part of a peaceful space program. The satellite would be fired by the "Galaxy 2" space launch vehicle in the East Sea Space Launching Base located in Hwadae County, the North Hamgyong province.

The DPRK said it is entitled to develop its own space program and other countries like the United States have no rights to interfere.

The US and South Korean media suspected the DPRK was going to test-fire a ballistic missile "Taepodong-2," with a maximum estimated range of 6,700 km that could hit American territory.

South Korea, Japan and the United States have warned Pyongyang not to fire a missile. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has urged the DPRK to stop its "provocative actions," saying a missile test would "be very unhelpful."

The DPRK said it put an experimental satellite "Kwangmyongsong-1" into orbit in August 1998. But the US believed that it was only a "Taepodong-1" missile test-launch.


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