Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea plans to launch an "earth observation" satellite using a carrier rocket in April, the country's official news agency said Friday, a move that would potentially violate U.N. Security Council demands.
The announcement could also threaten a deal struck last month with the United States in which Pyongyang agreed to halt nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and enrichment activities in exchange for food aid.
In a statement, the U.S. described the announcement as "highly provocative," saying North Korea is violating its international obligations.
"Such a missile launch would pose a threat to regional security and would also be inconsistent with North Korea's recent undertaking to refrain from long-range missile launches," said Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman.
Previous satellite launches by the reclusive North Korean regime have been widely viewed as ballistic missile test launches in disguise.
A new launch would be "a grave provocation undermining the peace and security of the Korean peninsula as well as Northeast Asia," the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement.
The last time Pyongyang carried out what it described as a satellite launch, in April 2009, the U.N. Security Council condemned the action, saying it breached a resolution forbidding North Korea from conducting "missile-related activities."
The Security Council demanded that North Korea not conduct further launches.
South Korea's foreign ministry said Friday it urged the North to respect the U.N. Security Council's ruling and "observe its international responsibility."
The North's official Korean Central News Agency said that the planned launch -- scheduled for between April 12 and April 16 -- is to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung. It cited a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology.
New N. Korean leader visits DMZ
The centenary of Kim Il Sung's birth is a huge event in the North Korean calendar and takes place after the death of his son, Kim Jong Il, in December. Kim Jong Il was succeeded as the "supreme leader" of the secretive state by his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.
"They're trying to remind the world they are dangerous and working hard to develop a delivery system," said Professor Andrei Lankov at Kookmin University in Seoul.
He noted that almost the same technology is needed for both satellite and missile launches.
North Korea will "abide by relevant international regulations and usage concerning the launch of scientific and technological satellites for peaceful purposes," the North Korean news agency said.
The satellite, named Kwangmyongsong-3, will be "blasted off southward" from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the western province of North Phyongan, according to the official report.
"A safe flight orbit has been chosen so that carrier rocket debris to be generated during the flight would not have any impact on neighboring countries," the report said.
North Korea's previous rocket launches that it said aimed to put satellites in orbit were Kwangmyongsong-1 in 1998 and Kwangmyongsong-2 in 2009.
While Pyongyang says those launches succeeded, outside agencies have found no evidence of the satellites being successfully placed in orbit.
Experts say that Kwangmyongsong-2 flew over Japan before crashing, farther than any other North Korean missile. The 2,000-mile flight suggested North Korea is getting better at building long-range missiles.
"The upcoming launch will greatly encourage the army and people of the DPRK in the building of a thriving nation and will offer an important occasion of putting the country's technology of space use for peaceful purposes on a higher stage," the news agency report said Friday. DPRK refers to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name for North Korea.
Lankov said he was surprised by the announcement, since it could spoil the recent deal with the United States and deprive North Korea of 240,000 metric tons of food aid.
The survival of the deal "depends on how willing the U.S. is to overlook" the satellite launch announcement, he said.