Pyongyang agrees to shutdown by 2008

Other News Materials 3 October 2007 23:59

( RIA Novosti ) - North Korea has agreed to decommission its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon by December 31, Chinese top negotiator Wu Dawei said Wednesday.

Envoys from the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South and North Korea gathered in the Chinese capital after a two-day recess on Wednesday to finalize a timeline for Pyongyang to shut down all its nuclear facilities and provide full data on its nuclear program in exchange for aid.

Pyongyang is to decommission a 5 MW nuclear reactor, a radiochemical lab and a fuel processing plant. All three facilities are currently closed down and sealed off.

A statement agreed at the six-party disarmament talks said U.S. representatives will lead the work to decommission the facilities within two weeks. The statement also said that the United States is to head disablement activities and provide preliminary funding, and that North Korea has pledged not to transfer nuclear materials, technology or know-how.

North Korea, which tested a nuclear bomb last October, closed down its main nuclear reactor in July under the February six-party deal, a major breakthrough in talks which have continued for over three years.

In exchange, the North will receive 950,000 metric tons of fuel oil for its thermal power-generating plants, in addition to the 50,000 already delivered for the reactor's closure.

The statement also confirms that North Korea will receive aid equivalent to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil and that the U.S. will move towards removing the country from a terrorism blacklist.

Alexander Losyukov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, said the new agreements on North Korea's denuclearization make practical denuclearization measures possible.

"The talk is now about practical measures on denuclearization, which is in line with the main goals of our entire [negotiating] process," Losyukov, who leads the Russian delegation at talks that have been held since 2003, said.

Losyukov also said Russia intends to include its own expert in a group that will soon travel to North Korea to help decommission Pyongyang's nuclear facilities.

Japan's foreign minister, Masahiko Komura, said Japan will not provide aid to North Korea despite the reached agreement. " Japan's policy will remain unchanged," he said.

Tokyo says normalization of bilateral relations with North Korea should be linked to the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean secret services in the 1970-1980s.

North Korea admitted that its secret service had kidnapped 13 Japanese nationals. Five of them were repatriated, while the remaining eight, according to North Korea, died.

Pyongyang has said the issue is closed, but Tokyo said there were more than 13 cases and insists that all those abducted be returned to Japan.