VIENNA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Monday that it has received an invitation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for a visit.
The UN nuclear watchdog received the invitation on Friday, IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in a statement, but declined to elaborate.
"We will discuss with the DPRK and other parties concerned for the details of the visit," Tudor said. "Details will be discussed. Nothing has been decided yet."
If made, the visit would be the first of its kind since the DPRK suspended its cooperation with the IAEA and withdrew from the six-party talks on nuclear disarmament in 2009.
Late last month, the DPRK said it would suspend nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and uranium enrichment activities as part of an agreement reached with the United States.
In addition, Pyongyang agreed to allow UN inspectors to return to the country and "verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities at Nyongbyon and confirm the disablement of the 5-MW reactor and associated facilities."
In return, the United States agreed to provide the DPRK with 240,000 tons of nutritional assistance.
However, Pyongyang's announcement, also made on Friday, of a plan to launch an "earth observation" satellite in April to mark the 100th birthday of its late leader Kim Il Sung has drawn widespread international concern. The United States warns that the bilateral deal has been put at risk.
The DPRK denies that its planned satellite launch would breach the agreement, saying: "The launch of the working satellite is an issue fundamentally different from that of a long-range missile."
Ri Yong-Ho, the DPRK's vice foreign minister and chief negotiator to the six-party talks, said late Monday in Beijing that his country would implement its deal with the United States in full.
He also said if others were practicing double standards or inappropriately interfered with the DPRK's sovereign rights, Pyongyang would be forced to react to it.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the DPRK's invitation to the IAEA "positive," saying: "Obviously there's benefit for any access that the IAEA can get."
She also said Washington still believed that the satellite launch plan was in violation of the DPRK's UN obligations and commitments under a U.S.-DPRK agreement late last month.
The DPRK is under tough UN sanctions that were further tightened because of a similar rocket launch on April 5, 2009. That launch, according to the country's official KCNA news agency, put a "Kwangmyongsong-2" communications satellite into orbit. But some countries, including South Korea, Russia and the United States, believed the launch was a failure.
In late 2010, the New York Times reported that Pyongyang showed U.S. nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker, who traveled to the DPRK, a vast, new plant to enrich uranium with " hundreds and hundreds" of centrifuges installed.
U.S. wants DPRK to drop satellite launch
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department said on Monday that Washington hoped that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will drop its plan to launch a satellite in April.
"Obviously, we were heartened that every single one of the six- party talks participants made clear that they think that this would be an extremely bad idea and a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, so we are hoping and expecting that the DPRK will take that to heart," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland at a briefing. Full story
KCNA: DPRK's satellite launch not contradictory to DPRK-U.S. Agreement
PYONGYANG, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea(DPRK) asserts that planned launch of Satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 not contradictory to DPRK-U.S. Agreement, the official news agency KCNA reported Monday.
It said that South Korea media, busy with "odd smear campaign" over the issue of DPRK's satellite launch, have claimed the Satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 is an inter-continental ballistic missile and a violation of the agreement reached at the DPRK-U.S. high-level talks on Feb. 29. Full story
DPRK to invite int'l observers to satellite launch amid growing concerns
BEIJING, March 18 (Xinhua) -- With international concerns growing over the planned satellite launch of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Pyongyang has decided to invite foreign experts to observe the launch. Full story
DPRK satellite launch plan triggers int'l concerns
BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The United States, Russia, China and South Korea, as well as the United Nations all voiced their concerns Friday over a satellite launch plan announced by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Full story
Pentagon says DPRK rocket launch "destabilizing"
WASHINGTON, March 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Department on Friday said the April launch of a long-range rocket announced by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) would violate U.N. resolutions and represent a destabilizing influence in the region.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. side "consider it destabilizing behavior," urging the DPRK leadership to "reconsider this decision and to conform to their obligations under those sanctions." Full story
China's concerns over DPRK's planned satellite launch
BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday voiced concern over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) plan to launch a satellite in April.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun met with Ji Jae Ryong, DPRK ambassador to China, on Friday to express China's worry over the matter, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Full story
DPRK to launch application satellite next month
PYONGYANG, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is to launch in mid-April a working satellite, Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by itself with indigenous technology to mark the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung, the official news agency KCNA reported Friday.
A spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology, who announced this in a statement Friday, said the expected launch, scheduled between April 12 and 16, is in line with the government's policy for space development and peaceful use, said the report. Full story