WASHINGTON - The United States on Saturday condemned North Korea's plan to carry out its second rocket launch of 2012 as a "highly provocative act" that would threaten peace and violate UN sanctions.

"A North Korean 'satellite' launch would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region," said US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a written statement.

"Any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology is in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolutions," she added.

North Korea's state news agency announced the decision to launch what it asserts is a space satellite in mid-December.

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