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North Korea has begun fuelling a long-range rocket capable of sending a warhead into American territory by the weekend, US officials have said.
The secretive communist state claims it is planning to send a satellite into orbit between April 4 and 8.
But the United States, South Korea, and Japan have said the launch is a disguised test of the Taepodong-2 missile.
The fuelling signals that North Korea is in the final preparation stages for the launch, a report quotes US military officials as saying.
A launch would be the first big challenge for President Barack Obama in dealing with the North, whose efforts to build a nuclear arsenal have long plagued ties with Washington.
Speaking at the G20 summit in London, a US official said America would respond by raising the issue with the UN security council.