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The North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 and is thought to have enough plutonium to make a half-dozen atomic bombs.

After the latest missile test, the North pulled out of six-nation talks over its nuclear future and announced that it would begin reprocessing fuel from its nuclear reactor to make more plutonium.

It then threatened to conduct its second nuclear test and to conduct further tests to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Under a 2007 six-nation deal, North Korea agreed to disable its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, in return for 1 million tons of fuel oil and other concessions. In June 2008, North Korea blew up the cooling tower there in a dramatic show of its commitment to denuclearization.

But disablement came to halt a month later as Pyongyang wrangled with Washington over how to verify its past atomic activities. The latest round of talks, in December, failed to push the process forward.

The negotiations involve China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States.