The secretary of state said that Pyongyang’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile “would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act.”

More info on North Korea’s preparations for a launch–which could buoy Bush’s campaign for a Star Wars missile defense shield.

N.Y. Times:

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leveled a warning Monday that “it would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act” if North Korea tested a long-range ballistic missile.

Rice’s remarks came after Bush administration officials said North Korea has apparently finished loading fuel into a ballistic missile, the latest signs that the reclusive communist state will soon test a weapon that could reach the United States.

Testing would abrogate several North Korean commitments and “it would be taken with utmost seriousness,” Rice said at a news conference.

U.S. intelligence indicates that the long-range missile, believed to be a Taepodong-2, is assembled and fully fueled, said two officials, who requested anonymity because the information comes from sensitive intelligence methods.

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