Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nuclear talks resume as money issue resolved

March 20, 2007

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— A timetable for North Korea's disarmament is getting closer to being agreed upon.

International nuclear negotiators eliminated the biggest obstacle hindering discussions - $25 million in frozen North Korean funds. Monday's talks were possible because the biggest sticking point - North Korean funds frozen in the Macau lender Banco Delta Asia - was resolved. North Korea boycotted the international nuclear talks for more than a year after the U.S. alleged that it was using Banco Delta Asia to launder money and process counterfeit currency.

The deal gives the North 60 days to shut down both its main reactor and a plutonium processing plant, and allow U.N. monitors to verify the closures. In return, the regime is to receive energy and economic assistance and a start toward normalizing relations with the U.S. and Japan.

Under the Feb. 13 pact, North Korea is required to list all its nuclear programs after the 60 days. A key obstacle could be its alleged uranium enrichment program, which the North has never publicly acknowledged having. South Korea is also to deliver 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to the North in exchange for the reactor shutdown.

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