The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has shut down
its only active nuclear reactor, and is ready to start disabling
its nuclear programs if the US lifts all sanctions against it, a
DPRK diplomat said yesterday.
Kim Myong-gil, minister at the DPRK mission to the UN, confirmed
that the reactor at Yongbyon was shut down on Saturday after
receiving an oil shipment from the Republic of Korea (ROK).
"Immediately after the arrival of the first heavy fuel oil
(shipment), the facilities were shut down and the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) personnel will verify that," Kim
Chinese experts welcomed the development, saying the DPRK's move
is a big step toward finding a lasting solution to the Korean
Peninsula nuclear issue.
"It is heartening to see the parties implement the February 13
accord in a phased manner and in line with the principle of
'commitment for commitment and action for action'," said Liu
Jiangyong, a researcher with Tsinghua University.
This will enhance mutual understanding and take the six-party
talks forward, he said.
The shutting down of the reactor, however, is just the first step,
Liu said. The flow of the rest of the operation depends very much
on the progress of the six-nation talks.
Five years after IAEA inspectors were expelled from the DPRK, a
10-member team of the UN nuclear watchdog reached Pyongyang on
Saturday to make sure the reactor in Yongbyon, about 100 km north
of the capital, was switched off.
Kim also raised hopes of further progress on disarmament, saying
the next steps will include the DPRK making a declaration on its
nuclear program and disabling the facilities.
But he said the moves would come only if Washington took
"parallel" action, including lifting wider economic sanctions
against Pyongyang and removing the country from its list of "states
that sponsor terrorism".
"After the shutdown, we will discuss the lifting of economic
sanctions and removal from the terrorism list. All those things
should be discussed and resolved," Kim said.
In a statement, the DPRK Foreign Ministry said progress on
disarmament would depend on "what practical measures the US and
Japan, in particular, will take to roll back their hostile policies
The oil the DPRK got on Saturday was an initial 6,200 tons of a
total of 50,000 tons in exchange for shutting down the reactor.
Under the February 13 agreement at the six-party talks, Pyongyang
will get a total equivalent to one million tons of oil for
dismantling its nuclear programs.
The ministry said the DPRK began shutting down its nuclear
reactor even before receiving the shipment of oil. That was "a
manifestation of its good faith toward the agreement," according to
the statement carried by the official Korean Central News
The main US envoy at the six-party talks, Assistant
Secretary of State Christopher Hill, has said he believes the
disablement of the nuclear facilities could be completed by the end
of the year.
Hill was touring the region before the six-party talks,
scheduled to resume in Beijing on Wednesday.
The ROK's nuclear envoy Chun Yung-woo called the shutting down
of the Yongbyon reactor a "milestone", and said that the resumed
talks would be held "in a better atmosphere than ever before."
(China Daily via agencies July 16, 2007)