Pyongyang has announced it will launch a satellite-bearing rocket sometime between February 8-25, which is around the time of the birthday on February 16 of late leader Kim Jong-Il, father of current leader Kim Jong-Un.

UN sanctions prohibit North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, and such a launch would amount to another major violation of Security Council resolutions following its fourth nuclear test last month.

The North insists its space programme is purely scientific in nature, but the United States and allies like South Korea say its rocket launches are aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking the US mainland.

South Korean officials routinely refer to them as 'long-range missiles' rather than space rockets.

The planned launch poses a dilemma for the international community, which is already struggling to find a united response to the North's January 6 nuclear test.

Latest News from World News Desk