China said on Tuesday that North Korea was ready to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facility and accept UN inspectors as part of the six-nation disarmament process.
"We found that the DPRK is ready to shut down and seal the facility in Yongbyon and accept the monitoring and supervision of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
Liu did not give a specific timeframe but he referred to a six-nation accord signed on February 13 that commits North Korea to closing Yongbyon and allowing IAEA inspectors in by mid-April.
"All parties are willing to take serious steps to implement their commitments in the common document of February 13," he said.
Liu reported the latest round of the six-nation talks -- which involve host China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia -- had made good progress this week.
"All parties believe that reaching such an agreement marks the start of a new stage of action, and it is a good start for new progress in the six-party talks," he said.
The talks began in Beijing on Monday on an optimistic note following an announcement by the US that it had reached a deal with North Korea to end a financial sanctions dispute that had held up the six-party process.
The US Treasury announced that roughly 25 million dollars in North Korean funds frozen in a Macau bank due to accusations of money laundering and counterfeiting would be released, although no timeframe was given.
Pyongyang had insisted it would not implement the February deal until the sanctions dispute was resolved.
Chief North Korean envoy Kim Kye-Gwan reportedly told his fellow envoys at the talks on Monday that his government would proceed with the first phase of disarmament once the 25 million dollars were safely returned.