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North Korea’s plan to launch satellite concerns US officials

North Korea has indicated that it will launch a satellite sometime between Feb. 8-25, a United Nations agency said Tuesday — a launch that has drawn American concerns because of the rocket to be used.

North Korea told the International Telecommunication Union on Tuesday that it intends to launch an Earth observation satellite, ITU spokesman Sanjay Acharya said. The ITU registers all satellite transmission frequencies to ensure there is no cross-satellite interference.

The launch could raise international tensions. U.S. officials have said the same type of rocket that would put the satellite into orbit could be used on a different occasion as an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Over the years, there have been various efforts by the international community to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program — and its missile program, as well  according to the website of the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan Washington-based organization dedicated to promoting public support for “effective arms control policies.”

The U.S. has been anticipating a new missile launch

But while there have been agreements and near-agreements over the years, all efforts have eventually collapsed, the Arms Control Association said. And North Korea contends it has withdrawn from any international agreements that would limit its weaponry.

A scenario similar to the current one unfolded in 2012, when North Korea announced it was launching a rocket carrying a satellite. North Korea said that operation was for peaceful purposes, but Japan, the U.S. and South Korea decried it as a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test.

The U.S. has been anticipating a new launch.

In recent days, U.S. satellites have spotted activity at a launch station in North Korea, and the U.S. has assessed that North Korea has assembled all the elements, equipment and technology for the launch of a satellite atop a long-range rocket, and that a launch could happen at any point, several U.S. officials told CNN.

Tuesday’s announcement comes about a month after North Korea bragged about what it said was the “spectacular success” of its first hydrogen bomb test, on Jan. 6. A U.S. official directly familiar with an assessment of the test said last week there may have been a partial, failed test of some type of components associated with a hydrogen bomb.

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