North Korea confirms rocket plans to UN shipping agency

File photo: A soldier standing guard in front of a rocket sitting on a launch pad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, Pyongyang, 8 April 2012
Image caption North Korea had also launched a rocket in April but failed

North Korea has confirmed the details of its planned rocket launch this month, says the UN's shipping agency.

The launch is set for between 10 and 22 December, from 07:00 to 12:00 local time (22:00 - 03:00 GMT), said the International Maritime Organisation.

The country's state news agency said on Saturday that the rocket was to launch a satellite into space.

The plan, which follows a failed rocket launch in April, has been met with criticism from neighbouring countries.

The three-stage rocket is expected to fly south - dropping into the sea off the west coast of South Korea and landing in waters east of the Philippines, based on co-ordinates provided by Pyongyang.

The rocket's flight plan is said to take it close to Japan's Okinawa island. The Japanese government is now positioning missile defence interceptors in the event that the rocket veers off course.

North Korea had also previously notified its neighbours of the planned flight path, telling them it will follow a similar route to that of its launch in April.

The US, Japan and South Korea said that the failed rocket flew only for a short time before breaking up and crashing into waters off the Korean peninsula.

The UN, the US, South Korea and Japan have reacted sharply to the planned launch.

Russia and China have also urged Pyongyang to abide by the UN ban on ballistic missile tests.

The planned rocket launch occurs just as South Korea prepares for its presidential election on 19 December.