South Korea North Korea may be preparing to shut down its main nuclear reactor, news reports said today, renewing hopes that Pyongyang will comply with a disarmament agreement days after it missed a deadline to shutter the facility.
The report came a day after a South Korean official said this government may suspend rice shipments to North Korea to ratchet up pressure on the North to comply with its nuclear disarmament pledges.
The Yongbyon reactor was still in operation, but there was a high possibility that movement of cars and people at the site seen in satellite photos could be linked to a shutdown, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed intelligence official. The Dong-a Ilbo daily carried a similar report.
An official at the National Intelligence Service, South Korea's main spy agency, told The Associated Press they were "following and analyzing some peculiar movements" around the reactor in North Korea, without elaborating.
Yonhap news agency cited another intelligence official as saying that South Korea and the United States have been closely monitoring some movement since a month ago. "The intensity of these activities has increased from about a week or two ago," the official was quoted as saying. "There are activities other than cars and people moving busily."