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(LEAD) N. Korea says will launch more long-range rockets

All Headlines 09:21 February 12, 2013

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Tuesday that it will continue to launch long-range rockets along with the pursuit of "all-out action of high intensity" to ensure its own security.

The message carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang's official news agency, was reached at the meeting of the Political Bureau of the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee that was held Monday.

"The bureau stressed the need to continue launching satellites of the Kwangmyongsong series and powerful long-range rockets," the news outlet said in a lengthy report monitored in Seoul.

Pyongyang launched the three-stage Unha-3 rocket in late December, which is estimated to have a range of roughly 13,000 kilometers. The launch was the second undertaken last year and the fifth overall since 1998. North Korea claimed that the latest rocket was designed to carry the Kwangmyongsong satellite into space, but the outside world viewed it as a cover to conduct banned intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

The KCNA report added that there is a need to "stage an all-out action of high intensity for reliably protecting the security and sovereignty of the country," citing a grave security situation on the 65th anniversary of the founding of the communist nation. It said the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) must keep itself fully ready for combat and maximize its preparedness.

"Once an order is issued, the KPA should blow up the stronghold of aggression at a strike and wipe out the brigandish U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppet army, and thus accomplish the historic cause of national unification," it said in an English dispatch.

The report, however, did not directly say whether the country will conduct another nuclear test. The communist country has been threatening to carry out a "high level" test to bolster its nuclear deterrence ever since the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Jan. 23 (Korea time) condemning the Unha-3 launch and warned the North not to escalate tension.

South Korean officials have been speculating that North Korea's possible nuclear test will enter its most critical stage this week, since many said if the reclusive country goes ahead with the test, it will take place before Feb. 16, the birthday of late leader Kim Jong-il. The birthday is one of the most important holidays in the North. The late Kim conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

The news agency said the Political Bureau meeting was attended by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and members and alternate members of the ruling party's Central Committee. The gathering also emphasized the need to further deepen and accomplish the "sacred cause" of upholding Kim Il-sung, the country's founder, and Kim Jong-il as "eternal leaders of the Workers' Party and the revolution." Kim Jong-il is the father of the incumbent leader Kim Jong-un, who took power in late 2011.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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