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north korea reportedly preparing for missle test

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North Korea Reportedly Preparing for Missile Test
Booster Rockets Loaded Onto Launch Pad, Fuel Tanks Arrive on Site
SEOUL, South Korea (June 17) - North Korea loaded booster rockets onto a launch pad and moved about 10 fuel tanks to a launch site in preparation to test-fire a long-range missile that could reach as far as the U.S. mainland, a newspaper reported Saturday.

   
A man walks by models of North Korea's Scud-B missile, center, and other South Korean missiles at a Museum in Seoul, South Korea.


South Korea and the United States made the assessment after analyzing satellite images, the Chosun Ilbo reported, citing an unnamed high-level South Korean government official.

The report follows warnings by the U.S. government that the communist state was accelerating preparations for testing a missile that has the potential to strike the United States.

A U.S. government official said Friday that a test of the Taepodong-2 long-range missile may be imminent. The Washington official agreed to speak but only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The official said the Bush administration is very concerned about activities that point toward a test, but declined to elaborate.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that any missile launch by the North Koreans would be a provocation and would violate their 1999 commitment not to carry out such tests.

   


   
Japanese and South Korean officials also have expressed concern in recent days about the reported North Korean missile launch activities.

The reports of a possible launch come after a prolonged hiatus in six-party nuclear disarmament talks designed to create a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

Persistent efforts by the United States and other members of the group to persuade North Korea to resume the discussions have not been successful. There have been no discussions since last November.

North Korea is demanding that the United States revoke sanctions that Washington imposed several months ago in response to alleged North Korean counterfeiting of U.S. dollars and other currency violations.


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