North Korea preparing rocket launch

North Korea is gearing up to fire a long-range rocket this month in a defiant move expected to raise the stakes of a global stand-off over its missile and nuclear programmes.

The North’s announcement that it would launch the rocket between December 10 and December 22 came as President Barack Obama prepares for his second term and as South Korea holds presidential elections on December 19.

It would be North Korea’s second launch attempt under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power following his father Kim Jong Il’s death nearly a year ago.

Some analysts have expressed scepticism that North Korea has corrected whatever caused the embarrassing misfire of its last rocket eight months ago.

That launch earned the country widespread international condemnation.

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