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North Stops Operation of Yongbyon Nuclear Facility

Posted July. 16, 2007 03:26,   


North Korea stopped operating its Yongbyon nuclear facility yesterday. The operation of Yongbyon nuclear facility came to a halt four years and five months after the North restarted operating its 5MW nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in February 2003, soon after the second North Korea nuclear crisis caused by suspicions that the North might be developing nuclear programs using highly enriched uranium (HEU).

By suspending operations, North Korea has paved the way for second-stage discussions regarding the report of North’s nuclear facilities and the North’s complete nuclear dismantlement beyond the initial measures for dismantling its nuclear facilities in accordance with the February 13 agreement.

North Korea stopped the operation of its 5MW nuclear reactor at Yongbyon after the first shipment of the 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, which was promised for the North, arrived at Sonbong Port on July 14. North Korea then notified the countries participating in the six-party talks of the suspension of operations at the nuclear facility.

An inspection team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that arrived in Pyongyang on July 14 began verifying the suspension yesterday. The 10-member IAEA inspection team will verify the North’s suspension of operations by installing monitoring equipment, such as cameras, in the nuclear facility, and station two inspectors in North Korea.

In addition, North Korea clarified its demands in the process of discussing the issue of its nuclear arsenal after the suspension of the plant’s operations.

Kim Myong Gil, a minister at North Korea`s mission to the UN, said in a telephone interview with the AP that in order for North Korea to disable its nuclear program, the U.S. should also take reciprocal acts such as removing the North from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and ending the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act (TEA) to North Korea.

Prior to the six-party talks scheduled to resume on July 18-19 in Beijing, China, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill, who arrived in Seoul yesterday, stated, “The suspension of operations at the Yongbyon nuclear facility is only the first step and the international community should carefully watch the North’s follow-up measures.”

Meanwhile, regarding the suspension of operations at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) said in a comment released under the name of its spokesman Cho Hee-yong, “The shut down of the Yongbyon nuclear facility and the IAEA inspection team’s return to the North hold significant meaning in that it is the first step toward fulfilling the agreement of denuclearization of North Korea.”

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