North Korea will launch a long-range rocket carrying a satellite into space next month. The earth observation satellite will be set into orbit between April 12 and April 16, coinciding with the nationwide celebrations of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung.

This is a grand event that shows off our national power, Pyongyang officer Choe Myong Suk told the Associated Press.

We can say that our country has proudly joined the ranks of developed countries.

The launch threatens a recently signed agreement, in which North Korea would freeze its weapons program in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of food aid.

Such a missile launch would pose a threat to regional security and would also be inconsistent with North Korea's recent undertaking to refrain from long-range missile launches, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

North Korea, which insisted the satellite was for “scientific” and “peaceful” purposes, said the Eunha-3 (Galaxy) rocket will be launched southwards toward China, and not over South Korea.

The upcoming launch will greatly encourage the army and people of the [North Korea] in the building of a thriving nation and will offer an important occasion of putting the country's technology of space use for peaceful purposes on a higher stage, North Korea's Central News Agency said.

A safe flight orbit has been chosen so that carrier rocket debris to be generated during the flight would not have any impact on neighboring countries, the report said.

Nonetheless, South Korea was outraged by what it perceives as an intentional provocation, especially since the last time Pyongyang said it was launching a satellite, in April 2009, it was actually carrying out missile-related activities, according to the United Nations.

“This is a serious provocation that threatens peace and security on the Korean peninsula and across north-east Asia,” Seoul’s foreign ministry said.

Japan also condemned the planned satellite launch. A senior official at the Foreign Ministry said it violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, and said Japan will discuss the launch with South Korea and the United States, according to Reuters.