Before its last two rocket launches, North Korea notified the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization about its intentions to launch. IMO spokeswoman Natasha Brown said that as of Friday the organization had not been notified by North Korea.
The North’s announcement on Saturday comes two days after South Korea canceled what would have been the launch of its first satellite from its own territory. Scientists in Seoul cited technical difficulties. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the North’s planned launch is ‘‘a grave provocation and a head-on challenge to the international community.’’
North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs will be a challenge for Obama in his second term and for the incoming South Korean leader. Washington’s most recent attempt to negotiate a freeze of the North’s nuclear program and a test moratorium in exchange for food aid collapsed with the April launch.
In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he would coordinate with the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia in strongly urging the North to refrain from the rocket launch.
Japan’s defense minister has also ordered missile units to intercept the North Korean rocket if it or its fragments threaten to hit Japan.
Kyodo News agency said Japan also postponed high-level talks with North Korea scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned North Korea’s launch plan, saying a failure by North Korea to cancel the firing will lead to a further response by the international community.
The Korean Peninsula remains in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Washington stations nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea as a buttress against any North Korean aggression. Tens of thousands more are in nearby Japan.
Associated Press writers Jean H. Lee, Hyung-jin Kim and Sam Kim in Seoul, Jill Lawless in London, Thomas Strong in Washington, D.C., and Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo contributed to this report.