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North Korea fired what the U.S. and South Korea believe is a long-range rocket, a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said early Friday.The rocket was fired at 7:39 a.m., he said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.The U.S. and South Korea determined that the launch was a failure, and that the rocket fell down within minutes, according to the MND spokesman. U.S. Forces Korea referred all questions to the Pentagon, which had no immediate comment about the launch. In Pyongyang, AP reported there was no word about a launch, and state television was broadcasting video for popular folk tunes. North Korean officials said they would make an announcement about the launch “soon.”North Korea announced last month that it would launch a satellite for earth observation, but the U.S. and South Korea believe the launch is a cover for to test long-range missile technology. Japan had threatened to shoot down the rocket if it passed over Japanese airspace, and South Korea had said it would consider a launch a “provocation” and was weighing possible countermeasures. Earlier this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney called the rocket launch “a very provocative act that would be, if it were conducted, done in direct violation of North Korea’s international obligations” and a move that would make it “virtually impossible” for the U.S. to provide food aid.

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