The government on Monday condemned North Korea's planned rocket launch a "grave provocation aimed at developing a long-range nuclear weapons delivery system using ballistic missile technology."
The government reached the conclusion in an emergency foreign and security ministers' meeting chaired by President Lee Myung-bak, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Jung-ha said.
Park said, "Due to the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit slated for Mar. 26-27, the government will be able to cooperate closely with the leaders of the U.S., Japan, China, Russia, and the EU, and join international efforts to deal with the issue."
The North Korean regime claims it is launching a scientific satellite, but Seoul has concluded that is a cover for an attempt to test propellants for a long-range missile.
"Intercontinental ballistic missile and satellite propellants are based on the same technology. The only difference is that one would deliver a nuclear payload and the latter a satellite module," a government official said. "North Korea apparently wants to develop a rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead."
The North launched a similar rocket on April 5, 2009 and conducted its second nuclear test on May 25 the same year. The UN Security Council on June 12, 2009 banned rocket launches using "ballistic missile technology," which would make the planned launch illegal even if it is a bona fide satellite launch.