JERICHO  - The Palestinian leadership will launch a campaign to upgrade their status at the United Nations this month, seeking support from at least 150 nations, an official said Thursday.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the campaign to upgrade their status from observer entity to that of a non-member observer state would start immediately after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas addresses the General Assembly on September 27. “We will begin the consultations of all the geopolitical groups,” he said, “any group... willing to join us in the drafting of a resolution,” he told reporters at a press conference in Jericho. “We want Palestine back on the map on the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, carried by 150 to 170 nations,” he said.

The Palestinians currently hold observer status at the United Nations, and a high-profile bid last September to obtain full member status stalled before it was put to a vote in the UN Security Council.

But obtaining non-member status is achieved through a simple vote in the General Assembly, where the Palestinians are expected to easily meet the required threshold of support from more than half the 194 member states. Erakat said they had not yet set a date for the formal submission of the non-member status resolution. Some were pushing for the resolution to be submitted on November 29, the international day of solidarity with the Palestinians, while others wanted it to be made “immediately,” he said.

“All these things are being weighed, but the most important thing is we want a draft resolution that is signed by 150 to 170 nations.” Palestinian attempts to upgrade their status at the United Nations, which would give them access to various international agencies, have been strongly opposed by Israel and the United States. But the Palestinians say the stalemate in peace talks, on hold since late September 2010, has forced them to seek unilateral recognition at the UN. N Korea blasts US plan for new radar base in Japan SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea on Thursday lashed out at a US plan to build a new radar base in Japan, saying it would escalate an arms race and leave Pyongyang no option but to develop “more powerful nuclear weapons”.

During a visit to Tokyo on Monday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said an agreement had been reached on deploying another US missile defence radar in Japan.

The radar will enhance the ability of US troops to defend Japan and protect the United States from North Korea’s ballistic missile threat, Panetta said.

“This will only strain the regional situation and escalate the arms race,” the North’s foreign ministry said in a statement published by the official Korean Central News Agency.

“What should not be overlooked is that Panetta openly declared the new radar is targeted against the DPRK (North Korea), not China,” it said.

According to US officials, the additional radar frees up the country’s naval Aegis ships, which have been operating near Japan to help detect any potential incoming missiles.

“Given the fact that the US, the world’s biggest possessor of nukes and missiles, is stepping up its arms build-up against the DPRK, it is quite natural for (North Korea) to steadily bolster up its nuclear deterrent,” the North’s foreign ministry said.

“The US attitude requires the DPRK to become a more powerful nuclear weapons state as befitting the ‘rival’ of the US,” it added.

About 47,000 US troops are stationed in Japan, many of them on the far southern island chain of Okinawa. Japan already has one X-band radar, at Shariki base in Tsugaru City, in the far north of the main island of Honshu.

North Korea carried out a failed rocket launch in April in what it said was an attempt to put a satellite into orbit.

But the UN Security Council strongly condemned the exercise as breaching a ban on the testing of ballistic missile technology, and tightened sanctions.