North Korea told an international organization it will fire a satellite into space between April 4-8, a report said Thursday, giving a timeframe for a launch that neighboring governments suspect will test missile technology.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea has informed the International Maritime Organization of its early April schedule for the satellite launch, citing a source it did not identify.
Separately, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said the country has informed the International Civil Aviation Organization, International Maritime Organization and others "of necessary information for the safe navigation of planes and ships" amid preparations for the launch.
That dispatch did not say when a launch would take place, but the Yonhap report cited the dates April 4-8.
Officials of the ICAO and IMO were not immediately available for comment. South Korea's Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said it was checking the reports.
Reports began emerging in February that North Korea was preparing to test a long-range missile. North Korea has since sought to portray the launch as a legitimate and peaceful space program, and has vowed to retaliate against anyone who tries to prevent it.
South Korea, Japan and the United States believe the launch will test missile technology in violation of a 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution banning Pyongyang from ballistic activity, and have urged the North not to go forward.
The KCNA report noted that the country recently joined two U.N. treaties on space exploration, which "will contribute to promoting international confidence and boosting cooperation in the scientific research into space and the satellite launch for peaceful purposes." It was not immediately possible to confirm that element of the report.
North Korea has faked a satellite launch in the past to cloak its missile development. In 1998 it claimed to have put a satellite into orbit when a failed test missile splashed down near Japan.