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North Korea said Tuesday it is in full-fledged preparations to shoot a satellite into orbit, its clearest reference yet to an impending launch, which neighbors and the U.S. believe will be an illicit test of a long-range missile.
The statement from the North's space technology agency came amid international concern the communist nation is gearing up to fire its most advanced Taepodong-2 missile, which would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Last week, the country said it has the right to ''space development.'' North Korea has in the past used terms like ''space development'' or ''satellite'' to disguise a missile test. When it test-fired a Taepodong-1 ballistic missile over Japan in 1998, it claimed to have put a satellite into orbit.