North Korea said on Tuesday that it is preparing to launch a satellite, a move that the United States and its allies believe could actually be a long-range missile test that would deepen global tensions. Just days after new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Pyongyang to avoid any provocations, the secretive country said preparations were under way for a rocket launch to put a communications satellite into orbit. South Korea has said it regards the North's nuclear and missile capability as a serious threat and indicated a new round of sanctions would follow if the country, one of the poorest in the world, goes ahead with a launch. Pyongyang has previously tested missiles under the guise of launching a satellite, and analysts have said recent comments from the North indicated it was on the verge of another attention-grabbing test.