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(LEAD) N. Korea moves up planned rocket launch to between Feb. 7-14

All Headlines 19:04 February 06, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead, dateline; ADDS more information throughout)

SEOUL/TOKYO, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has informed a U.N. maritime agency that it moved up its plan to launch a long-range rocket to between Feb. 7 and 14, a South Korean government official said Saturday.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang informed the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of its initial plan to launch a satellite between Feb. 8 and 25.

"North Korea informed the IMO that it will amend the date of its planned missile launch to between Feb. 7 and 14," said the government official on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier in the day, the Japanese government confirmed Pyongyang's plan to move forward the launch period, according to Japan's Kyodo News

"We are in the process of confirming since there is so much information," Gen Nakatani, Japan's defense minister, was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.

Experts earlier expected that the North would likely launch the rocket around Feb. 16, the birthday of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died due to heart failure in late 2011.

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