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N Korea at crossroads

North Korea seizes on global rifts to further military ambitions

Failed satellite launch can still contribute to fast-advancing missile program

The Hwasong-81 intercontinental ballistic missile is one of a number of new weapons that North Korea has unveiled in recent years. (KCNA via Reuters)   © Reuters

SEOUL -- North Korea's attempted spy satellite launch Wednesday is an important piece of a five-year defense plan under which it has made substantial technological strides while international attention has been diverted by the West's rows with China and Russia.

The satellite aimed to bring the North's ability to track other countries' military forces and weapons deployment in real time closer to those of the U.S. and South Korea.

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