But to achieve its goal on the economic front and further consolidate the power of its new leader Kim Jong-un, the impoverished state is now in desperate need of economic assistance from outside.

It is also part of the reason for its push to hold the multinational aid-for-denuclearization talks.

Nam Chang-hee, political science professor at Inha University, said that launching a rocket on the centennial birthday of its founding father would help maximize its desired effect of a militarily strong nation.

"The North has publicized its aim for more than 10 years to become a powerful state, and it now needs a symbolic event to prove its military might internationally. If it launches what it calls a satellite, it could maximize its dramatic impact on the birthday," Nam said.

Nam added that should the US pledge bigger economic aid to the North, Pyongyang could cancel its launch plan, and that Washington may not give up last month's breakthrough deal with Pyongyang given its domestic political situation.

"The US might feel disappointed should the North resort to its 'salami' tactics once again," Nam said, referring to Pyongyang's notorious negotiating strategy of dividing and separating issues and constantly making new demands for progress at every step.

"President Obama now faces a reelection battle and has been engaged in a Iranian nuke issue. Thus, rather than giving up the deal, I believe the US is likely to continue its negotiations with the North."

Han Yong-sup, vice president of Korea National Defense University, said that the North's launch plan appears to be aimed at undermining the outcome of the Nuclear Security Summit slated to take place in Seoul from March 26-27.

"We should wait and see how the North would move. But it appears to seek to damage the outcome of the nuclear summit and get more concessions from the US It may try to upgrade its Taepodong missile through the planned launch," he said.

Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in early 2011 that North Korea with its continuing development of missiles and nuclear weapons is becoming a "direct" threat to the US He also pointed out that the North will have developed an intercontinental missile "within a five-year time frame."

The longest-range North Korean missile under development is the Taepodong-2 missile, presumed to have a range of more than 6,700 kilometers, far enough to hit parts of Alaska, but still incapable of reaching the US mainland.

All two test launches of the Taepodong-2 missile failed. In July 2006, the missile exploded in the air right after lift-off.

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