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North Korea says satellite launch will go ahead

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SEOUL (AFP): North Korea has said it would go ahead with its widely-criticised plan for a satellite launch and promised unspecified "counter-measures" against opponents of the operation.

Any attempt to deprive the North of its "independent and legitimate right" and impose double standards "will inevitably compel the DPRK (North Korea) to take counter-measures", a foreign ministry spokesman said on March 23.

Preparations for the launch "have entered a full-fledged stage of action", the spokesman said in a statement on the official news agency.

The North says it will launch a rocket between April 12-16 to put a peaceful satellite into orbit. The United States and its allies see a disguised missile test in violation of UN resolutions.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and several countries have criticised the planned launch. Ban says he will take it up at a summit starting Monday in Seoul.

The statement insisted the launch would not breach an agreement announced last month with the United States, under which the North agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment programme and missile tests in return for US food aid.

"The DPRK (North Korea) remains unchanged in its stand to sincerely implement the DPRK-US agreement," the statement said.

Any attempt to deprive the North of its right to launch peaceful satellites would "inevitably compel the DPRK (North Korea) to take counter-measures", the spokesman said without elaborating.

Countries concerned "should not make an excessive reaction to the DPRK's satellite launch for peaceful purposes from their viewpoint of confrontation but fairly and calmly accept it as it is", the statement added.

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