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S. Korea vows to sternly deal with N. Korea's rocket launch

All Headlines 17:39 April 10, 2012

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea warned Tuesday it will sternly deal with North Korea's rocket launch amid media reports that Pyongyang has completed its preparations for a planned launch.

"All the assembly and preparations of the satellite launch are done," Ryu Kum-chol, a senior North Korean space official, told foreign journalists at a rare news conference in Pyongyang, according to the Associated Press.

South Korea renewed its demand that North Korea scrap the launch and instead take care of its people, noting the North's provocation could isolate the communist country and invite international sanctions.

"If North Korea goes ahead with a long-range missile launch, our government will sternly deal with this provocative act by closely coordinating with the international community," the Unification Ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told CNN on Monday that the U.N. Security Council will likely be convened if North Korea launches the rocket as planned.

North Korea has said the Unha-3 rocket will blast off between Thursday and Monday to put a satellite into orbit as part of the centennial birth celebrations of the country's late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

The North has claimed that the satellite is designed to gather information on the country's crop estimates, weather forecasts and survey of natural resources.

However, South Korea, the United States and other regional powers suspect the launch could be a cover for testing the North's ballistic missile technology, which is banned under a U.N. resolution.

The statement also called on South Koreans to keep business usual, saying South Korea is prepared to cope with any situation over the rocket launch.

Also Tuesday, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and his U.S. counterpart agreed to forge closer cooperation against the planned rocket launch during their telephone conversation, according to Seoul officials.

entropy@yna.co.kr
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