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U.S. gov't says 'nothing new' on N. Korea's reported missile launch preparations
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government said Monday that it has no "new" information on North Korea's possible preparations for another long-range rocket launch.

   "We don't have anything new at the moment," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. "We've seen the same rumblings and press reportings that you've seen."

   Her comments were Washington's first formal response to a series of media reports that North Korea appears to be gearing up for a missile test.

   Nuland, however, struck a different tone than South Korean military and government officials. who cite some signs of preparatory work for a long-range ballistic missile by the reclusive communist neighbor.

   Nuland emphasized that Pyongyang is banned from nuclear and ballistic missile activity under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

   She also refused to confirm a separate report that Japan intercepted a Myanmar-bound ship in August carrying North Korea-made materials to be used for uranium enrichment or missile development.

   Japan's major daily Asahi Shimbun reported that the country's authorities seized around 50 metal pipes and 15 high-specification aluminum alloy bars on the ship en route to Myanmar.

   If true, it would mean that Myanmar, which has been getting incentives from the U.S. for its move towards democracy, maintained illicit transactions with North Korea at least until the summer.

   "It was a single report in a Japanese newspaper," Nuland said. "We have not been able to confirm that report, nor have we been able to confirm that we've been notified by the Japanese as the report asserts."

   Nuland's remarks puzzled some reporters as the U.S. has openly said it shares information on North Korea with its regional allies -- South Korea and Japan -- for close policy coordination.