N Korea ‘planning satellite launch’

The North Korean Unha-3 rocket at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, also known as Tongchang-ri on 8 April 2012Image copyright

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The last long-range rocket launch at Sohae Satellite Launching Station was in 2012

North Korea has announced plans to launch a satellite later this month, a UN agency says.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) says it has been notified of Pyongyang’s plans to launch a satellite between 8 and 25 February.

It comes after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on 6 January, drawing international condemnation.

Critics have called Pyongyang’s last satellite launch a cover for a test of ballistic missile technology.

Last week, US officials said that North Korea appeared to be preparing for a rocket launch, citing increased activity around the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, also known as Tongchang-ri.

The North last conducted a long-range rocket launch in December 2012, successfully putting into orbit an object Pyongyang claimed was a communications satellite with the three-stage Unha-3 carrier.

However the UN Security Council subsequently said that the launch was “a clear violation” of resolutions banning North Korea from missiles tests, and imposed new sanctions.

North Korea has said its space programme is peaceful, but it is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could strike the US.

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