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North to Start Nuke Shutdown Upon Receiving Fuel

Posted July. 02, 2007 03:02,   

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North Korea agreed to take steps to close down its nuclear facilities in coincidence with the timing of the arrival of 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil from the South, which will be sent to the North for just that purpose.

North Korea agreed to the procedure for transferring and accepting heavy fuel oil at a meeting with officials of the South’s Foreign and Unification ministries yesterday, and reportedly said, “In accordance with the principle of reciprocal action, we will take measures to shut down our facilities when heavy fuel oil reaches the North.”

The two Koreas decided to send the first ship carrying heavy fuel oil to the North two weeks after the agreement was made (by July 14) and complete delivering 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil within 20 days after the departure of the first ship to North Korea.

Of the 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, 35,000 tons will be transported to Sonbong Port and 15,000 tons will be delivered to Najin Port.

Under this schedule, North Korea is expected to start taking action to shut down its facilities in mid-July when the first ship containing heavy fuel oil departs or arrives at Sonbong Port or Najin Port.

The inspection team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which will verify the shutdown of the nuclear facilities, is very likely to visit the North around this time. Prior to the visit to the North, the IAEA will decide the specifics, including the timing of the visit by inspection team, at a special board of directors meeting on July 9.

Olli Heinonen, the International Atomic Energy Agency`s deputy director general for safeguards who arrived in Beijing, China, yesterday after finishing a five-day trip to North Korea, told reporters, “The IAEA and North Korea agreed on verifiable measures regarding the closing down and sealing of the North’s nuclear facilities,” and added that the two sides reached a satisfactory agreement.

Heinonen visited the five facilities to be closed down and sealed in Yongbyon, Taechon. Those facilities include a 5-megawatt (MW) nuclear reactor, a radiochemical laboratory with reprocessing capacity, a nuclear fuel rod plant, a 50-MW nuclear reactor under construction, all in Yongbyun, and a 200-MW nuclear reactor in Taechon.

Regarding the possibility of residing in North Korea by the IAEA inspection team, Heinonen noted, “It is possible.”

Meanwhile, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit North Korea starting tomorrow and stay through July 4 to discuss issues such as the resumption of the six-party talks and a meeting of participating countries’ foreign ministers. There is speculation in Beijing that Yang could discuss the possibility of summit meetings between leaders from the two Koreas, the U.S., and China with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.



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