U.N. inspections allowed once funds released
North Korea ? A U.S. delegation pressed North Korea on Monday to shut down its main nuclear reactor and allow in U.N. inspectors even as the top American negotiator said it would be difficult for a weekend deadline on the closure to be met.
The American delegation said North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, told them his government would allow U.N. nuclear inspectors into the country as soon as $25 million in disputed North Korean funds are released.
Kim, who is also vice foreign minister, met with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, and Anthony Principi, President Bush’s former veteran affairs secretary, who were visiting the North Korean capital.
But Principi said Kim told the Americans that it would be difficult to shut down the nuclear reactor by a Saturday deadline called for in a Feb. 13 nuclear disarmament accord.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is slated to monitor and verify the shutdown in what would be its first visit since late 2002, when North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors after U.S. officials accused the communist nation of running a secret uranium enrichment program in violation of a 1994 disarmament deal.