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North Korea invites foreigners to satellite launch

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 17, 2012 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • North Korea will invite outsiders to the launch of its satellite
  • The planned launch has been widely condemned

(CNN) -- North Korea will invite foreign space experts and journalists to witness the launch of a satellite that the United States and other nations see as a provocation, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday.

The apparent attempt at North Korean transparency comes amid a flurry of condemnations of its planned launch because it uses ballistic missile technology.

Pyongyang is set to launch next month an "Earth observation" satellite using a carrier rocket, a move that would potentially violate a United Nations Security Council ban on nuclear testing.

The planned launch has put at risk a deal struck last month between the United States and North Korea in which Pyongyang agreed to halt nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and enrichment activities in exchange for food aid.

At the time of the food aid agreement, under which North Korea would receive 240,000 metric tons of foodstuffs, the United States told Pyongyang that such a launch would be contrary to the accord, the U.S. State Department said.

There was no immediate comment from the nations critical of the launch about the North Korean invitation to outsiders.

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