Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Sign of Hope June 24th 2007

Shutdown of North Korean Reactor to Begin


THE United States yesterday said it expects North Korea to shut down the reactor at the heart of its atomic arms development within about three weeks.

Senior US nuclear envoy Christopher Hill said progress on a deal struck in February to disable Pyongyang's nuclear programme should be possible following the transfer to a North Korean account of $25m in cash that had been frozen in Macau at Washington's behest.
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Russian news agencies quoted finance ministry officials as saying yesterday that the transaction had been completed.

Hill, who made a brief trip to the isolated East Asian state this week, also said the next round of six-party talks on scrapping Pyongyang's nuclear programme would take place after the shutdown began, most likely in the early part of July.

Shutdown of the Yongbyon reactor would take place after North Korea had reached agreement with the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on monitoring the operation, Hill told reporters in Tokyo.

"We expect Yongbyon to be shut down after there is an agreement between the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] and the IAEA on how to monitor this shutdown," Hill said after talks with his Japanese counterpart, Kenichiro Sasae. "We do expect this to take place soon, and within probably three weeks."

North Korea confirmed it would begin implementing the nuclear disarmament deal it agreed with top regional powers on February 13 as soon as it recovered the funds which have been long frozen in Macau.

Pyongyang committed itself to closing down Yongbyon, the source of its weapons-grade plutonium, in the deal with the US, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, in exchange for energy aid.


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