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North Korea prepared to launch missiles

controversial long-range missiles by the threat of further sanctions, the country’s ambassador to the U.K. said in a rare public appearance.

Pyongyang insists the launches are part of a peaceful satellite programme but the U.S. and its allies say they are disguised ballistic missile tests and a key component of a nuclear weapons development scheme.

Pyongyang has hinted that it could fire one of the rockets in October to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party, a key political anniversary for the secretive nation.

Doing so would invite fresh sanctions from the west, and probably derail plans for an inter-Korean family reunion set for late October.

But Ambassador Hyon Hak-bong told an audience at London’s Chatham House that his government would consider any escalation of sanctions “another provocation” and would not be deterred. “We have nothing to be afraid of. We will go ahead, definitely, surely,” Mr. Hyon said. “We are prepared to launch at any time or any place.”

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