North Korea ups preparations for missile launch

North Korea appeared to move closer Sunday to test-launching a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States, officials and news reports said, as the communist state vowed anew to bolster its military forces in a burst of fiery rhetoric. Japan warned it would file a "fierce" protest to the U.N. Security Council if a long-range missile was fired, in what would be the North's first such launch since August 1998. Since 1999, the North has abided by a self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile tests. The North is believed to be planning a test of its most advanced missile yet, the Taepodong-2, which could reach parts of the United States with a light payload.