North Korea Announces Plans to Launch Long-Range Missiles

North Korea — North Korea announced plans Friday to launch a long-range rocket mounted with a satellite next month, a provocative move just weeks after it agreed to nuclear concessions including a moratorium on long-range missile tests.

North Korea argues that such launches are part of a peaceful space program that is exempt from any disarmament agreements, but the U.S., South Korea and other critics condemn them as disguised tests of the North’s military missile technology in violation of a U.N. ban.

The launch is to take place exactly three years after similar launch in April 2009 drew widespread censure.

Liftoff will take place between April 12 and 16 from a launch pad in North Phyongan province, a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology said in a statement carried by state media. The North said the launch would be a test of satellite technology.

The plan comes as North Korea prepares to celebrate the April 15 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. Read more in the Washington Post….