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Kim's power rockets amid launch row

North Korea is poised to send a rocket into space as the nation's young leader ascended to new top political posts, strengthening his hold on power.

There was no word on the timing of the launch, which the North has said will take place some time before Monday. The launch, which the North says is for peaceful purposes, has raised international concern.

Meanwhile, the nation's leader, Kim Jong Un, was named first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party, a newly-created post. He also succeeded his late father as chairman of the Central Military Commission, which formulates the party's military policies, and was elevated to standing member of the powerful Political Bureau, the party's highest-level decision-making body.

Late long-time leader Kim Jong Il was granted the posthumous title of "eternal general secretary" at the special one-day party conference.

Kim Jong Un's formal ascension to top party posts, nearly four months after his father's death, comes during a week of events leading up to celebrations on Sunday marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the late president Kim Il Sung.

The centennial is a major milestone in the nation Kim Il Sung founded in 1948, and the streets of the capital, Pyongyang, were awash with new posters, banners and the national flag.practising for this week's events.

North Korea has thrown open its doors to dozens of journalists from around the world to report on the events this week designed not only to honour Kim Il Sung but also to demonstrate unity as Kim Jong Un consolidates power.

One of the marquee events is the satellite launch that has raised international concern.

Space officials call the launch of the Unha-3 rocket, mounted with an Earth observation satellite, a "gift" to Kim Il Sung. They said the final step of injecting fuel into the three-stage rocket was under way in the coastal hamlet of Tongchang-ri.

Paek Chang Ho, chief of the command centre, said the rocket was ready for lift-off as soon as engineers were given the green light. North Korea has informed international aviation, maritime and telecommunications authorities that the launch would take place before Monday.

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