NKorea plans to launch long-range rocket in April

North Korea plans to launch a long-range rocket mounted with a satellite next month, a surprise move that comes weeks after it agreed to nuclear concessions including a moratorium on long-range missile tests. The launch is to take place exactly three years after a similar trial in April 2009 drew widespread condemnation from the US, South Korea and others as a cover for testing North Korea's long-range missile technology. Liftoff will take place between 12-16 April from a launchpad in North Phyongan province, a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology said in a statement carried by state media. The launch plan comes as North Korea prepares to celebrate the 15 April centenary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung. Kim's grandson, Kim Jong-un, has led the nation of 24 million since his father, Kim Jong-il, died in December. The announcement comes after North Korea agreed last month to suspend uranium enrichment, place a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, and to allow back UN weapons inspectors in exchange for much-needed food aid. Uranium enrichment is one way to make atomic bombs. In the past North Korea has also weaponised plutonium for nuclear devices.

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