06/27/2008, 00.00
NORTH KOREA
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Pyongyang gives in and destroys “atomic” tower

The cooling tower of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor was blown up live in front of the world’s cameras. It was here that North Korea staged its first nuclear test in October 2006. The event marks the success of US and Chinese diplomacies although it is still not certain that Pyongyang will be off the US “rogue” state list.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – After months of international pressures  North Korea’s Communist regime has finally relented, handing over accounts its nuclear programme and blowing up the cooling tower at of Yongbyon nuclear reactor, where it staged a nuclear test in October 2006

For some South Korean analysts the destruction of the tower was a first concrete, albeit highly symbolic step in the process of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programme which Pyongyang has pledged to do in exchange for food aid and energy supplies by the international community.

The tower of the main North Korean nuclear facility was blown up at 4 pm (+ 9 GMT) in a “good will” gesture towards the United States, which in return decided yesterday to lift trade sanctions from the Asian country and remove it from its list of “rogue” states that sponsor terrorism.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stressed however the need for verification. Under US law the move by the US president to remove the country from the US terror list would not begin for 45 days.

US experts are currently involved in drawing up a protocol for verification to determine whether Kim Jong-il’s regime will live up to its part of the bargain.

Whatever qualms may still exist, the international public opinion and the six-nation group (China, Russia, Japan, United States and the two Koreas) have welcomed the development.

For many experts diplomatic work by various nations and a different attitude to Pyongyang have convinced North Korean leaders that they could not continue their nuclear programme.

On the one hand, it is clear that Washington’s steadfastness and seriousness of intent played an important role in its talks with the Stalinist regime.

On the other, as North Korea’s only big partner mainland China set propaganda aside and told Kim Jong-il in no uncertain terms that without dismantling its nuclear programme it could no longer count on China’s fundamental support.

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