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IAEA keeping tabs on North Korea

March 28, 2012 at 9:51 AM

SEOUL, March 28 (UPI) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency is watching North Korean developments regarding a planned rocket launch "carefully," the group's director said.

North Korea announced plans to deploy an Earth observation satellite into orbit in April. The announcement followed a pledge by Pyongyang to halt missile and nuclear activity in exchange for food assistance from the United States.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said during a nuclear summit in South Korea that his agency was keeping close tabs on North Korea's missile plans.

"We are following the issue of the satellite launch carefully," he was quoted by South Korean news agency Yonhap as saying.

Amano said he didn't "want to speculate" about the monitoring of the country's nuclear program in lieu of the pending rocket launch.

North Korea's plans were criticized by the United States and its allies. Japan had said it would shoot the rocket down if it encroached on its airspace.

South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik called for a heightened state of alert ahead of the planned mid-April launch.

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