TOKYO - Iran has stationed defense staff in North Korea since late October apparently to strengthen cooperation in missile and nuclear development, Japan's Kyodo News agency reported on Sunday, citing a Western diplomatic source.

The report came as North Korea said on Saturday it would carry out its second rocket launch of 2012 between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22, near the first anniversary of the death of young leader Kim Jong-un's father.

The Iranian mission, Kyodo said, is made up of four experts from Iran's Ministry of Defence and firms close to it. Citing the source, it said they were staying at a military facility 85 km (53 miles) from the North Korean border with China.

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