And things were going so well with North Korea. The secretive, ornery regime in Pyongyang which agreed to stop enriching uranium and stop testing long-range missiles in exchange for food aid from the U.S. is now planning to launch a rocket. For science, though. North Korea's announcement on Friday of an April "satellite" launch to celebrate Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday has infuriated the U.S. State Department, which thinks the launch is essentially cover for a ballistic missile test, and as The Guardian reports, has called the plans "highly provocative." North Korea's neighbors Japan and South Korea (who are both in long-range missile range) are a bit harsher calling the test a "a move to interfere with our effort toward a dialogue" and "a grave provocation" respectively. The BBC reminds us that "space technology" was North Korea's bluff in 2009 when officials celebrated the space triumph of putting a satellite into orbit. However, "Foreign officials said there were no indications that a satellite had reached space and that the launch was a cover for Pyongyang to test long-range missile technology," reports the BBC, which added that the 2009 launch garnered Security Council condemnation and tightening of sanctions for violating restrictions on rocket testing. "Legally, Pyongyang is within its rights to launch a satellite. But politically, this announcement is a slap in the face to the Americans," one expert told The Guardian. "If Pyongyang is serious about building a new relationship with the United States, they need to take concrete steps to demonstrate this is in fact a satellite launch, and that would include inviting monitors."
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