North Korea has warned that any country that shoots down the rocket it has planned to launch will have to face retaliation and merciless punishment, the Telegraph has reported.

The warning from North Korea came after Japan and South Korea had announced that they would shoot down the rocket if it violated their territories. Both South Korea and Japan have said they are prepared to shoot the rocket down and their forces are in stand-by mode to react to any emergency.

North Korea has announced that it will launch an earth observation satellite on its Unha long range rocket in mid-April to commemorate the birth centenary of its late founder-president Kim-II-Sung.

The US and other western countries have strongly objected to the proposed rocket launch, terming it as a long range ballistic missile test in disguise. They have asked North Korea to show restraint and to abort the proposed rocket launch. They have warned that the rocket launch would be treated as a violation of the UN resolution and a nuclear deal with US which it has signed in exchange of food aid.

According to the deal, the US was supposed to send 240,000 tons of food in exchange of a nuclear and ballistic missile test moratorium by North Korea. The US says it is suspending the food aid deal, as Pyongyang has refused to halt the rocket launch.

However, North Korea has been adamant about its planned launch and has already completed the first phase of the preparations for the rocket launch. According to the recent satellite images, the country has readied the mobile radar trailer system, fueled the rocket and the launch process has begun.

The launch is expected to happen on any date between April 12 and 15 in a South East trajectory, according to the latest reports. 

The launch has escalated regional tensions in the Korean peninsula and the surrounding area. Japan has already deployed its interceptor missiles and defense forces in Tokyo and Okinawa region.

North Korea has blamed the US and Japan of over-reacting to its satellite launch program. North Korean media has criticized the US of exploiting the situation and taking its rocket launch as an excuse to bolster its military presence in the region, according to a KCNA report.