Saturday, June 30, 2007

U.N. monitors satisfied with North Korea visit

U.N. monitors expressed strong satisfaction Friday with a rare visit to North Korea's main nuclear reactor, praising the communist regime for its cooperation in an indication Pyongyang is serious about meeting its promise to close the facility. It was the first IAEA visit to the facility since U.N. monitors were expelled from the country in 2002.

Pyongyang pledged to close Yongbyon in exchange for economic aid and political concessions in an agreement with the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. The purpose of the IAEA trip is to discuss shutdown and verification procedures with North Korea.

The 5-megawatt reactor, believed capable of churning out enough plutonium for one atomic bomb a year, is at the center of international efforts to halt North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea mounted its first atomic test explosion last October.

Other facilities his team saw at Yongbyon included an unfinished 50-megawatt reactor, the fuel fabrication plant and reprocessing plant.

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