SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea warned the United States, Japan and their allies on Tuesday not to interfere with its plan to launch a satellite into space next month.
North Korea has declared its intention to send a communications satellite into space between April 4 and 8. Regional powers suspect the North will use the launch to test its long-range missile technology, and has warned Pyongyang the launch would trigger international sanctions.
A 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution prohibits North Korea from engaging in ballistic activity, which Washington and its allies say includes firing a long-range missile or using a rocket to send a satellite into space.
On Tuesday, the North's Foreign Ministry reasserted its right to peaceful development of its space program.
"Countries like the U.S. and Japan, which are taking issue with our satellite launch, are nations that have already fired satellites earlier than us," said the statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. The stance proves their "their hostility toward us," it said.
The North warned that any sanctions would violate the spirit of the disarmament-for-aid pact Pyongyang signed in 2007 with five other nations: the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.
North Korea had agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for energy aid and other benefits. The process has been stalled since last year over a disagreement with Washington over how to verify the North's past atomic activities.
The North also said it had no choice but to strengthen its forces in the face of such hostility. The statement didn't elaborate.