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North Korea plans second rocket launch in December

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea is to carry out its second rocket launch this year in December as South Korea holds its presidential election in a move that will likely trigger diplomatic tensions between the two Koreas and censure from the United States and Japan.

State news agency KCNA said on Saturday that the launch of a rocket carrying a satellite would take place between December 10 and December 22.

North Korea says its launches are for peaceful purposes, although Washington and Seoul believe the isolated, impoverished state is testing long-range missile technology with the aim of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

North Korea undertook a similar launch in April that was aborted a few minutes into its mission. The North is banned from conducting missile or nuclear-related activities under United Nations resolutions.

The coming launch will take place around the time of South Korea's presidential polls on December 19 and close to the first anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il.

Kim died on December 17 last year and was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un.

(Reporting by David Chance and John Ruwitch; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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