07/16/2007, 00.00
NORTH KOREA - USA
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IAEA confirms the closure of Yongbyon

The agency’s director general speaks of a “first step in the right direction”, revealing however, that there is still much to be done. A second shipment of oil, provided for in the North Korean denuclearization deal, leaves Seoul.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – United Nations inspectors have confirmed the shutdown of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor. Speaking from Bangkok, Mohamed Elbaradei, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), confirmed the move.   “Our inspectors are there. They verified the shutting down of the reactor yesterday. It’s a good start but much still needs to be done”, he added.

El Baradei also made public that the UN inspectors who confirmed the Yongbyong closure on Sunday, hoped to be able to do likewise in another four sites, by Wednesday.

The chief US nuclear negotiator with North Korea Christopher Hill, who travelled to Pyongyang at the end of June, speaking from Seoul described is as a “step in the right direction”, adding that “we have really a lot work to do now, but I think we're off to a good start”. Hill's comments came as South Korea sent a second shipment of oil to the North, in line with six-nation disarmament-for-aid deal signed in Beijing in February. The tanker carrying 7,500 tonnes of oil left Ulsan in the South for the North Korean port of Nampo. 

The resolving of the nuclear standoff between North Korea and the six nations involved in negotiations – China Russia Japan United Nations South Korea and North Korea – is largely due to the US decision to release 25 million dollars of North Korean funds blocked in a Macao Bank.

However the question of post dismantlement remains open.  The government lead by Kim Jong-il insists on being able to keep reactors which can be converted for civilian use of atomic energy open, but upon till now the International community has excluded this possibility.

 

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