UN nuclear monitors head for North Korea

International monitors arrived in Beijing on Friday on their way to North Korea, where they will keep watch over the nuclear complex at the heart of a disarmament deal.

UN nuclear monitors head for North Korea
International monitors arrived in Beijing on Friday on their way to North Korea, where they will keep watch over the nuclear complex at the heart of a disarmament deal.

The six experts from the UN nuclear agency are due to fly to North Korea on Saturday to take the place of colleagues already at the Yongbyon complex, which can make plutonium that can be used in weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) staff said little on arrival — they leave weighty statements to agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

"We will travel tomorrow to Pyongyang and we will continue activities as stated in the board document," group leader Ryszard Zarucki told reporters. He was referring to an IAEA board meeting document authorising the monitoring.

Their arrival was another step in a February disarmament pact offering heavy fuel oil in return for freezing and ultimately disabling Yongbyon.

Some of the 10 IAEA staff who arrived at the site on July 14 are likely to stay on to provide continuity with the new team; others are due to leave next week.

North Korea halted its antiquated reactor and plant that turns used uranium fuel into arms-grade plutonium earlier this month after the first batches of fuel oil arrived. It also invited IAEA personnel back into the country.

North Korea agreed at six-party talks in February to close Yongbyon, about 100 km (60 miles) north of Pyongyang.

The next step of deal among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States calls on Pyongyang to "disable" its nuclear facilities and provide a full accounting of its nuclear weapons programmes.

Talks between the countries this month failed to yield a deadline for those steps. They are to hold several sets of working-level talks in August and more senior meetings in September that could clear the way for implementation.

AFP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2007, 10:13
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