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'IAEA has understanding on N Korea reactor shutdown'

world Updated: Jun 30, 2007 08:44 IST

Reuters
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The UN nuclear watchdog and North Korea have an understanding on how to monitor the shutdown and sealing of the North's nuclear reactor, but the closure date was up to the six-party talks, a UN official said on Saturday.

"We have now reached an understanding on how we are going to monitor sealing and shutting down of the Yongbyon facility," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Safeguards Director Olli Heinonen told reporters after arriving in Beijing from Pyongyang.

"They will talk this with the five parties so the IAEA is not part of it," Heinonen said when asked about arrangements to close Yongbyon and when that will happen.

The visit to the Yongbyon reactor, about 100 km (60 miles) from the capital, was the first by IAEA officials since Pyongyang kicked out the Vienna-based agency's inspectors in December 2002.

After expelling nuclear inspectors, the communist state subsequently opted out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, announced it had atomic bombs and, last year, carried out its first nuclear test.

Six-party talks involving North and South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and host China struck a disarmament deal in February, under which Pyongyang would receive energy aid, security guarantees and better diplomatic standing in return for scrapping its nuclear arms programmes.

The deal was stalled for weeks by a dispute over some $25 million in North Korean funds frozen in a Macau bank at Washington's behest. Following the release of the funds, North Korea agreed to implement the deal.