N Korea ‘shuts down’ reactor

The move is Pyongyang’s first step in nearly five years towards de-nuclearisation.

Nuclear inspectors - North korea
IAEA inspectors will have to confirm the Yongbyon shutdown [Reuters]

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“North Korea has only one card in hand and that is its nuclear programme

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North Korea said last week it would consider suspending the operation of its nuclear facilities as soon as it received the first shipment of oil from South Korea under the February 13 aid-for-disarmament deal.

A South Korean tanker carrying 6,200 tonnes of fuel oil arrived early on Saturday at the port of Sonbong on North Korea’s northeastern coast, the unification ministry in Seoul said.

IAEA team

The 10-member team from the IAEA arrived in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Saturday afternoon, coinciding with the docking of the tanker carrying fuel oil at Sonbong port.

North Korea nuclear deal


On February 13, 2007, at six-nation talks in Beijing, North Korea agreed to:


Start shut down of main Yongbyon nuclear reactor facility within 60 days of deal


Allow UN nuclear inspectors entry for all monitoring and verification


Discuss list of all nuclear programmes and materials including plutonium extracted from fuel rods


Declare all nuclear programmes and disarmament of all existing nuclear facilities


Begin talks on normalising diplomatic ties with the US and Japan, and resume high-level talks with South Korea


In return US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea promise initial shipment of 50,000 tonnes heavy fuel oil within initial phase


The five nations agreed to establish working groups for initial and full implementation of action plan


Additional aid up to the equivalent of 1m tonnes of heavy fuel oil to be delivered to North Korea upon compliance

Adel Tolba, the team’s chief, said they would stay in North Korea as long as needed to complete its work at the Yongbyon plutonium-producing reactor, about 120km northeast of Pyongyang.


North Korea will receive 50,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil for closing the facility and that will rise to one million tonnes once the whole nuclear programme is dismantled. 

The Soviet-era Yongbyon facility, which produced raw material for bomb-making plutonium, is at the heart of the North’s nuclear programme which culminated in its first atomic weapons test last October.
The two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan will resume talks on Wednesday next week to discuss how Pyongyang proceeds towards full de-nuclearisation.

Christopher Hill, US nuclear envoy, said he expected the North to submit a list of its nuclear facilities within months, as was agreed upon in February’s round of talks.

“We expect the comprehensive list in a matter of several weeks, possibly several months,” he said.

Hill also stressed that the shutdown of Yongbyon was only the first step.

“I also don’t want people to think this shutdown is the biggest and only event.”

Source: News Agencies