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N Korea allows IAEA team to visit nuclear plant

world Updated: Jun 27, 2007 10:31 IST

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North Korea will allow a team of UN nuclear watchdog officials to visit the Yongbyon reactor it agreed to shut down under a disarmament-for-aid deal, Japan's Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation headed by Olli Heinonen is already in Pyongyang, capital of the secretive communist state, to negotiate terms for inspectors to monitor the shutdown.

"Tomorrow, we're going to Yongbyon," Kyodo quoted Heinonen as saying. He said the team would return to Pyongyang on Friday.

The Yongbyon reactor is the source of bomb-grade plutonium for North Korea, which conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.

North Korea ejected IAEA inspectors in December 2002, left the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty shortly afterwards and, in 2005, announced it had nuclear weapons.

The disarmament accord struck by two Koreas, Japan, Russia, the United States and China in February was stalled for weeks by a dispute over some $25 million of North Korean funds frozen in a Macau bank.

Pyongyang agreed to implement the deal this week after the money was released.

The ultimate goal of the six parties is to disable the Yongbyon complex and completely scrap the rest of Pyongyang's nuclear programme in exchange for massive aid, security guarantees and better diplomatic standing.