North Korea Announces Planned Satellite Launch

Posted March 16th, 2012 at 4:30 am (UTC-5)
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North Korea says it will use a long range rocket to launch a satellite next month in honor of late president Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday, which falls on April 15.

In a statement carried by official media, a spokesman for the North's Korean Committee for Space Technology said a long-range Unha-3 rocket would launch a domestic-built polar-orbiting earth observation satellite.

South Korea called the launch a clear violation of U.N. Security Resolution 1874, which bans all launches using ballistic missile technology. The South's foreign ministry said the launch would be a grave provocation threatening the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia.

Japan also reacted, with a government spokesman telling VOA that Tokyo is “responding by closely collaborating with other concerned governments” including the United States and South Korea.

The U.S. State Department called on North Korea to adhere to its international obligations, including all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. A spokesperson said early Friday that Washington is consulting closely with international partners on next steps.

The launch will take place three years after a similar launch in April of 2009 drew widespread condemnation as a cover for testing North Korea's long-range missile technology.

Pyongyang agreed last month to suspend long-range missile tests as part of a deal under which the U.S. would provide 240,000 tons of food aid.