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USFK warns North Korea against missile launch

SEOUL — U.S. Forces Korea issued a warning Friday that any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology would be considered “a provocative act.”

North Korea has announced it plans to launch a satellite sometime between Monday and Dec. 22. U.S. officials believe it will really be a test of the country’s missile-launch capabilities, and thus is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

News of the launch has prompted warnings from a variety of U.S. officials, along with South Korea and Japan. Even China, the North’s closest ally, has expressed concerns.

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“We are taking prudent measures to posture our forces to prepare for possible threats and deterrence of aggression against the United States, its territories, allies and interests,” USFK said Friday in a statement.

On Thursday, Adm.Samuel Locklear, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said American warships were being shifted into position to track the North Korean launch and take defensive actions if necessary.

“We encourage the leadership in North Korea to consider what they are doing here and the implications on the overall security environment on the Korean Peninsula, as well as in Asia,” he told a Pentagon news conference.

USFK echoed those comments in its statement, saying: “North Korea’s development, deployment and proliferation of missiles and missile-related materials, equipment and technology pose a threat to the region and the world.”

The Associated Press reported Friday that new satellite images show heavy snowfall may have slowed the launch preparations but that Pyongyang could still be ready for liftoff starting Monday.

A similar launch attempt in April failed.

rabiroffj@pstripes.osd.mil

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