UN Nuclear Watchdog Invited To Visit North Korea

The UN nuclear watchdog says it has been invited to visit North Korea - three years after its inspectors were expelled from the country.

North Korea said last month it would allow UN nuclear inspectors into the countryThe UN nuclear watchdog says it has been invited to visit North Korea - three years after its inspectors were expelled from the country.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it received a letter from Pyongyang on 16 March, but that the details were still being discussed.

Pyongyang last month agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, as well as nuclear and long-range missile tests.

It also agreed to allow UN inspectors into the country, the US said.

In return, Washington is finalising 240,000 tonnes of food aid for the North.

The move comes three months after Kim Jong-un came to power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.

But North Korea's pledge to co-operate with the international community was thrown into doubt last week, when Pyongyang announced plans to launch what it called a rocket-mounted satellite.

The North said the launch - between 12 and 16 April - would mark the 100th birthday of its late Great Leader Kim Il-sung.

Any launch would be seen as violating UN Security Council resolutions, and the US has described the plans as "highly provocative".

'Nothing decided'

The Vienna-based IAEA announced that it received the invitation from North Korea on Monday.

It said it would discuss the possible visit with Pyongyang and "other parties concerned".

"Northing has been decided yet," IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The IAEA has not revealed the details of the invitation.

It is unclear how much scope for inspections the IAEA would be given, the BBC's Bethany Bell in Vienna reports.

She adds that in the past North Korea has limited their access to key sites.

Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors ten years ago after a deal with the US unravelled.

In 2003, the secretive Communist state withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The inspectors were allowed back several years later - but were thrown out again in 2009.