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US warned that DPRK will down spy planes

THE Democratic People's Republic of Korea has accused the United States of spying on the site of an impending rocket launch and has threatened to shoot down any US planes that entered its airspace.

The DPRK says it will send a communications satellite into orbit on a multistage rocket between April 4 and 8. The US, South Korea and Japan think the country is using the launch to test long-range missile technology, and they have warned that Pyongyang would face sanctions under a UN Security Council resolution banning it from ballistic activity.

Pyongyang's state radio accused US RC-135 surveillance aircraft of spying on the launch site on its northeastern coast, according to the Republic of Korea's Unification Ministry.

"If the brigandish US imperialists dare to infiltrate spy planes into our airspace to interfere with our peaceful satellite launch preparations, our revolutionary armed forces will mercilessly shoot them down," the ministry quoted the radio as saying.

It was unclear what capability the DPRK has to shoot down the high-flying Boeing RC-135, which can reach altitudes of nearly 15 kilometers. The threat came a day after the DPRK claimed the US and the ROK conducted about 190 spy flights over its territory in March, including over the sea off the launch site.

The US military declined to comment on the allegations or the threat.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said at a summit on Tuesday with ROK President Lee Myung-bak that Pyongyang's launch would breach the UN resolution, and he pledged to respond in step with Seoul, Lee's office said.

Lee, in London for the G20 summit, told Brown it was important for the international community to show a concerted response to the DPRK move, according to his office.

Lee and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso also agreed at a summit yesterday to "work together to make sure the international community shows a united response" to a launch, a statement from Lee's office said.

In the Netherlands, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Pyongyang's move "an unfortunate and continuing example of provocation."

"There will be consequences, certainly, in the United Nations Security Council if they proceed with the launch," she said. Clinton also backed Japan's plans to shoot down any incoming DPRK rocket debris.


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