The IAEA's announcement of the overture from the North came just hours after Ri Yong Ho, a senior North Korean nuclear negotiator, said Pyongyang was sending invitations to agency inspectors as part of implementing the moratorium agreement.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington had not been told of a formal invitation to the IAEA from the North - but said such a move would be positive, while repeating America's reservations about the planned satellite launch.
"Obviously there's benefit for any access that the IAEA can get," Nuland told reporters. "But it doesn't change the fact that we would consider a satellite launch a violation not only of their U.N. obligations but of the commitments they made to us."
Now in doubt, the deal would have provided hundreds of tons of U.S. food aid to the impoverished North in exchange for a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests, as well as suspending nuclear work at its Yongbyon reactor.
The deal also opened the way for IAEA inspections of the North's nuclear program, which has gone unmonitored since the country asked agency experts at the reactor to leave and restarted its atomic activities three years ago.
The agency did not detail the terms of the invitation to visit North Korea, including whether they would involve an in-country discussion of what IAEA experts could do at nuclear sites, or whether they outlined what the U.N. nuclear monitors would do at the sites.
"Nothing has been decided yet,' said Tudor, the IAEA spokeswoman, in an e-mail to news organizations.