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Monday, March 19, 2012

N Korea invites back UN nuke monitors as it shows miltary force to leader Kim Jong Un

Tensions rose Monday on the Korean peninsula, with Pyongyang releasing video of a major military exercise and Seoul accusing its northern neighbor of using the planned satellite launch as a pretext for testing a nuclear weapon delivery system. The North Korean video shows leader Kim Jong Un meeting soldiers and watching what is described as a joint strike drill of the North's army, navy and air force. It shows a warship being blown up at sea, soldiers firing missiles and an airplane exploding in mid-air.

Meanwhile, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Monday it has received an invitation from North Korea to visit, three years after its inspectors were expelled from the communist country a second time, according to the BBC.

The move appeared to be an attempt by North Korea to show it was serious about a nuclear moratorium deal with the United States last month, an accord which has been thrown into doubt by Pyongyang’s announcement Friday of a planned rocket launch.

But a Vienna-based Western diplomat told Reuters that North Korea had “offered to meet with the IAEA to discuss the moratorium, they didn’t actually offer the IAEA moratorium monitoring at this point.”

A spokeswoman for the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said the invitation was received Friday — the same day Pyongyang announced it would launch a rocket carrying a satellite followed by an offer to allow space experts and journalists access to the launch site.

The U.S., Russia, South Korea and Japan have condemned the planned launch, saying it violates a U.N. ban on all North Korean launches using ballistic missile technology. Even Pyongyang's long-time ally, China, has expressed rare disapproval. Beijing said it is concerned about the launch's potential to disrupt regional peace and security. More from RTTNews, CNN, the Bangkok Post and the Herald Sun.

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