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Rice Calls North Korean Missile Test 'Provocative'

North Korea appears to have completed preparations for a test launch of a three-stage missile, as U.S. officials say the rocket is now completely fueled. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said any such launch by North Korea would be regarded as "a provocative act."

Through surveillance satellites, the United States has been monitoring the launch site, in the northeast corner of North Korea, for the past week.

Speaking in Washington, Secretary Rice said that a test launch would "show North Korea determined to deepen its isolation, determined not to take a path... of compromise and a path of peace."

North Korea's plans to test the long-range ballistic missile puts in further jeopardy the "Six-Party Talks" that were aimed at ending the country's nuclear weapons program.

Reports in advance of the test launch have described a missile that could reach Alaska.

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Mike Shuster
Mike Shuster is an award-winning diplomatic correspondent and roving foreign correspondent for NPR News. He is based at NPR West, in Culver City, CA. When not traveling outside the U.S., Shuster covers issues of nuclear non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and the Pacific Rim.