UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has joined international calls urging North Korea to scrap plans to launch a satellite into space.
Ban said the planned launch may violate UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang, echoing statements by the United States, Russia, and Britain.
The North's surprise announcement comes just weeks after it agreed to nuclear concessions including a moratorium on long-range-missile tests in exchange fro much needed food aid from the United States.
But Washington said the planned launch of the satellite carried into orbit by a long-range rocket was a "deal-breaker."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said a rocket launch would call into question North Korea's good faith.
North Korea's official news agency reported on March 17 that Pyongyang has invited foreign experts and journalists to observe the satellite launch, which is scheduled for mid-April to coincide with the centenary of the birth of the Stalinist nation's founder, Kim Il Sung.
The launch is due to take place three years after a similar one in April 2009 sparked widespread criticism.
As a result, the UN Security Council banned North Korea from using ballistic-missile technology.
With AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa reporting