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Pyongyang Cooperating, Say IAEA Inspectors
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North Korea is giving its complete cooperation to nuclear inspectors monitoring a shutdown of its key atomic complex, the UN team said yesterday.

The staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in North Korea on July 14 to monitor the Yongbyon nuclear complex, which the North closed as part of a disarmament pact reached in six country talks in February.

"We had complete cooperation from North Korean authorities," the head of the IAEA group, Adel Tolba, told reporters at Beijing airport after arriving from Pyongyang, the capital.

He said the team had completed the first stage of its mission and was heading back to Vienna for an evaluation.

The returning nuclear monitors are part of a "tag-team" who will watch over Yongbyon while six-party talks seek agreement on advancing the initial disarmament steps. A replacement team of IAEA monitors arrived in the North over the weekend.

A reactor and uranium fuel processing plant at Yongbyon can produce the plutonium that North Korea used in its first nuclear test-blast in October last year.

The next step of the disarmament 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 programs.

(China Daily via agencies August 1, 2007)

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