Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Pyongyang government has closed down all 5 reactors in the Yongbyon nuclear power plant, stopping a further four in addition to the only active reactor shut down Saturday last. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed the move on the eve of the international meeting in programme in Beijing; during the summit the next steps regarding North Korea’s denuclearization will be under discussion.
Thus the “second phase” of six way negotiations gets underway – involving the United States, China Japan, South Korea, Russia and North Korea – during which the Pyongyang government will have to shut down all remaining nuclear sites located on its territory. “We all know that we've got a long road ahead of us with many steps," US envoy Christopher Hill said ahead of the talks – “Maybe we could try to agree on getting these next phase things done in calendar year 07”.
For his part, before leaving Pyongyang, North Korean negotiator Kim Kye-gwan said that the six-party talks would address "obligations and actions" to be taken by all sides. Analysts say that while the Yongbyon closures are an important step, persuading North Korea to fully disclose all of its nuclear facilities and agree to their being disabled is likely to be a long and difficult process.