SEOUL, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- South Korea said it would work with the U.N. on a response against North Korea if Pyongyang moves forward with a long-range rocket launch – but uncertainty remains over the exact launch date.
In an announcement late Monday, North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration had said that it is "pushing forward in the final phase in the development of a new earth observation satellite for weather forecast," but did not specify a time of launch.
"The world will clearly see a series of satellites of (North) Korea soaring into the sky at the times and locations determined by the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea," North Korea said in a KCNA statement published in English.
Yonhap reported Seoul condemned the North Korean announcement on Tuesday, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said any ballistic missile launches would be considered a "grave provocative act and military threat, as well as a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions."
Pyongyang has said its space development program is for peaceful purposes, and that it was exercising its "legitimate right" as a sovereign state, but some analysts have said the program is a cover for missile tests.
In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan would work with the United States and South Korea to ask Pyongyang to refrain from missile launches. South Korean outlet News 1 reported Kishida said any launch that uses ballistic missile technology would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
North Korea is under U.N. sanctions for conducting nuclear tests, but the date of the future launch is yet to be determined.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at South Korea's University of North Korean Studies, said that North Korea's Monday announcement was "abstract," but the update also meant Pyongyang is ready to launch at any time, and whenever the "Party's center" gives the command.
Yang said in previous instances North Korea has launched prior to major anniversaries, and the next launch would take place most likely around Oct. 5, five days before a major anniversary on Oct. 10, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party.
In 2009, North Korea's launch of Kwangmyongsong-2 by rocket on April 5 took place about two weeks ahead of former leader Kim Jong Il's birthday.