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US to ease sanctions against North Korea
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The United States is prepared to lift two key economic sanctions against North Korea under a tentative deal reached this week, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The agreement also requires North Korea to finish the disablement of its main nuclear facility and provide full accounting of its stockpile of plutonium.

But, in a key shift, the two sides agreed to sidestep a dispute over how much detail Pyongyang must provide about any past uranium enrichment-related activities and its involvement in a mysterious Syrian facility bombed by Israel last September, the newspaper said.

Pyongyang had balked at confirming Washington's allegations, stalling for months a process designed to eliminate its nuclear program. But after negotiations this week in Singapore and last month in Geneva, the two sides agreed that Pyongyang must "acknowledge" the allegations without precisely admitting them publicly, the newspaper said.

North Korea allegedly acquired much of its plutonium after the 2002 collapse of a Clinton administration agreement barring operation of a plutonium-producing reactor.

The Bush administration accused North Korea of having a clandestine uranium-enrichment program. Plutonium and highly enriched uranium offer different routs to building nuclear weapons.

Under an agreement reached in October 2007 at the six-party talks,  North Korea agreed to disable its key nuclear facilities at the Yongbyon complex, and to declare all the other nuclear programs by the end of the year.

North Korea has denied that it had missed the deadline to submit that declaration, saying "other participating nations delay the fulfillment of their commitments, North Korea is compelled to adjust the tempo of the disablement of some nuclear facilities in the principle of 'action for action'".

(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2008)

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