North Korea seems to be paying attention to the nuclear standoff playing out in Iran.

Its 4-year-old dispute with the U.S. and other countries has escalated in recent weeks, giving rise to speculation that the negotiations with Iran are producing more concessions to that country than those offered to North Korea.

North Korea this week vowed to respond to any U.S. pre-emptive strike on its atomic facilities with an "annihilating" strike. At least one U.S. study suggests a long-range missile launched from Korea could reach parts of the U.S. with a light payload.

Estimates for the range of the missile vary widely, but at least one U.S. study said it could be able to reach parts of the United States with a light payload, according to an Associated Press report from South Korea where the U.S. has nearly 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

Talks broke down over the U.S. and other countries' demands that the North Korean nuclear weapons program be eliminated and that independent verification be established with Pyongyang.

North Korea's top ally and fuel supplier, China, has warned against any type of missile test firing. The six-party talks included negotiations by the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia

Speculation that Pyongyang could fire the missile has waned in recent days, however, since the country's top ally and a major source of its energy supplies, China, publicly suggested North Korea should not to go ahead with the test.

U.S. lawmakers were told last week that the potential launch reports are being taken seriously by the U.S. military. The Pentagon is looking at the full range of capabilities possessed by North Korea.

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