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N Korea destroys cooling tower
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The cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, North Korea is seen in this December 18, 2007 file photo. (Xinhua Photo)

North Korea destroyed the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear complex on Friday afternoon, South Korean media reported.

MBC TV, which has a crew at the site, said the 20-meter-tall facility was blown up shortly after 4 P.M. Friday local time (0700 GMT).

There was no other immediate information.

The destruction of the cooling tower, a key element of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, symbolized the progress of the disablement phase under the September 2005 agreement of the six-party talks.

About 16 journalists from five countries China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia, together with at least three from North Korea, mainly from TV broadcasters, witnessed the explosion.

They had been told that no press briefings by North Koreas officials were to be offered on the spot. They were also asked not to shoot anything else except the explosion of the cooling tower.

North Korea on Thursday submitted the long-delayed account of its nuclear inventory to China, the chair of the six-party talks.

Meanwhile, the United States accordingly announced that it may remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in August if the country meets all its obligations under the six-party talks.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2008)
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