Space officials in North Korea have moved a long-rang rocket into position for a controversial launch slated to take place later this month.
On Sunday, international reporters were taken to a field in the country's North Pyongyang province to view the 91-ton rocket and towering launch pad.
The isolated country announced that it would be launching the long-range rocket for scientific purposes during the 100-year celebration of North Korean founding father Kim Il Sung, despite international warnings that have labeled the move as provocative.
"North Korea is covertly preparing for a third nuclear test, which would be another grave provocation," claims an intelligence report by South Korean officials.
North Korea, however, maintains that it is launching the rocket with peaceful intentions.
"Our country has the right and also the obligation to develop satellites and launching vehicles," Jang Myong Jin, general manager of the launch facility, told The Associated Press during a Sunday tour at the Sohae Satellite Station where the rocket is located.
"No matter what others say, we are doing this for peaceful purposes," he added.
Last month, President Barack Obama gave North Korea a stark warning regarding launching the rocket saying, "there will be no more rewards for provocation" and on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the decision to launch a rocket indicates that North Korea's leaders would like to keep the country in isolation.
"In each case this would be an indication of North Korea's decision at the leadership level not to take the steps that are necessary to allow North Korea to end its isolation, to rejoin the community of nations and do something about the extreme poverty and deprivation that its people suffer," Carney said.
The use of ballistic missile technology is in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, and the launch would also be in violation of a deal struck last month by the U.S and North Korea to halt the country's missile program in return for food aid assistance.
As a result of the provocation, the U.S. cut desperately needed food aid to the country but indicated that if North Korea was to reconsider its mid-April launch, that discussions regarding food aid between the two countries could resume.