North Korea told the United States it shut down its nuclear reactor, the State Department said Saturday, hours after a ship cruised into port loaded with oil promised in return for the country's pledge to disarm.
If confirmed by a U.N. inspection team headed to the Yongbyon reactor, the shutdown would be the North's first step in nearly five years toward de-nuclearization.
An initial shipment of oil aid arrived hours earlier Saturday, in return for Pyongyang's pledge to close down its main nuclear reactor.
Chief U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill said he expected the North to submit a list of its nuclear facilities within months, as was agreed to in February's round of talks. After the IAEA team installs monitoring equipment, personnel will remain at Yongbyon to ensure the reactor remains shut down, said a diplomat familiar with North Korea's file at the IAEA.
The agreement eased a standoff that began in October 2002, when the U.S. said North Korean officials had admitted during meetings in Pyongyang to having a secret uranium enrichment program.