North Korea satellite plan is highly provocative

North Korea has announced its first satellite launch in three years, throwing into doubt a recent deal with the US that had aimed to end years of tension.

The US state department said the trial was “highly provocative” and would breach North Korea’s international obligations. Many see it as a test of missile technology.

The bilateral deal, which involves food aid in exchange for nuclear concessions, was hammered out barely two weeks ago. Washington greeted it as a first step towards reducing regional strains.

Relations deteriorated sharply after Pyongyang’s last such launch in 2009, which prompted condemnation from the UN security council and a tightening of sanctions. While North Korea said it was engaged in a peaceful space programme, others said it had breached resolutions against nuclear and ballistic missile activity.

The launch technology for missiles and satellites is near-identical, say experts. Pyongyang announced the satellite would be launched between 12-16 April to mark the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder and grandfather of its leader, Kim Jong-un.

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