North Korea will convene a parliamentary session in April, the country's state media reported Saturday, amid its preparations to launch a rocket that could further heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Supreme People's Assembly will hold a session on April 13, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch, without elaborating on its agenda.
It will be the first parliamentary session since North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un took over the communist country following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December.
The North is also scheduled to hold the Workers' Party conference in mid-April for an apparent attempt to further consolidate the untested young leader's grip on power.
The announcement came as Pyongyang's preparations for a rocket launch "have entered a full-fledged stage of action" despite international condemnation and pressure to call it off.
The North has announced it will launch the rocket between April 12 and 16 to put Kwangmyongsong-3, an earth observation satellite, into orbit as part of its peaceful space program.
The launch is timed for the April 15 holiday, which is the centennial of the birth of the country's late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.
However, South Korea, the United States and other regional powers suspect the rocket launch could be a disguised test of the North's ballistic missile technology that is banned under a 2009 U.N. resolution.
On Friday, the North's Foreign Ministry warned that it is "intolerable double standards" for some countries to assert that the North is the only nation not allowed to launch satellites while the same countries launch satellites as commonplace events.
"If there will be any sinister attempt to deprive the (North) of its independent and legitimate right and put the unreasonable double standards upon it, this will inevitably compel the (North) to take countermeasures," the Foreign Ministry said in an English-language statement carried by a separate dispatch.
The ministry did not give any further details on what it meant by countermeasures.
The ministry said Pyongyang "remains unchanged in its stand to sincerely implement" its recent nuclear deal with the U.S. that called for a temporary moratorium on missile and nuclear tests by the North.
The North has also agreed to temporarily halt its uranium enrichment program and accept U.N. inspectors in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid from the U.S.
"We have already invited a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss the procedures to verify the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities and are coming to sincere understanding for implementing the agreement with the U.S. side," the ministry said.
The ministry said that the North's satellite launch is "an issue quite different from" the February nuclear deal with the U.S., noting that the North clarified that the satellite launch is not included in the long-range missile launch at the three rounds of high-level talks with the U.S.
The U.S. has warned a North Korean launch would be "highly provocative" and a deal-breaker.
Also Friday, North Korea vowed to "take strongest countermeasures which no one can imagine" if South Korea "dares find fault with its nuclear deterrent and satellite launch and kick off" an anti-Pyongyang racket at next week's nuclear summit in Seoul.
Earlier this week, the North warned against raising the issue of its nuclear weapons program during the nuclear summit, saying it will regard any related statement as a declaration of war.
Still, South Korea has said that the North's planned rocket launch will be discussed bilaterally and multilaterally on the sidelines of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit that is set to open Monday. (Yonhap)