The United States said Tuesday that Macao authorities have
unblocked North Korea funds frozen at the Banco Delta Asia and
authorized account holders can withdraw their money from the
"Based on previous discussions with Chinese, Macao, and North
Korea officials, as well as understandings reached with North Korea
on the use of these funds, the United States would support a
decision by the Macanese authorities to unblock the accounts in
question," the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
Pyongyang has insisted it will only close the reactor, which
supplies it with weapons-grade plutonium, once US$25 million in
funds linked to North Korea interests and frozen since 2005 in
Macao's Banco Delta Asia are freed.
Under an international deal agreed two months ago to end its
nuclear weapons program, North Korea has until Saturday to start
shutting down its Yongbyon atomic plant.
"...the bottom line is that they have unblocked these accounts
and the account holders can authorized account holders can withdraw
the funds from those accounts," US State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack said in Washington.
A Macao Monetary Authority official said only that there would
be an announcement of some kind within a "few days".
The funds were frozen after Washington accused the Macao bank of
being involved in money laundering.
Furious that the money still had not been freed, the North Korea
walked out of a round of six-country talks on its nuclear program
in March, five months after its first atomic test.
The US announcement came as top US officials visited both sides
of the divided Korean Peninsula.
"I think we've reached a very important day today with the
imminent release of these funds," chief US nuclear negotiator
Chrisopher Hill said in Seoul.
(China Daily via agencies April 11, 2007)