Archive for Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nuclear reactor opened to media for 1st time

February 23, 2008

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— North Korea opened its main nuclear reactor to foreign media for the first time Friday in a bid to show that it is complying with a disarmament accord to disable the facility.

Broadcaster APTN was permitted to visit the reactor facility in Yongbyon, the heart of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Its footage showed North Korean workers in white head-to-toe protective suits removing spent nuclear fuel from the facility's 5 megawatt reactor.

The visit came as six-nation negotiations on the nuclear dispute are stalled over differences on whether North Korea has fully declared its nuclear programs under an October accord reached with the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

At the site, a senior Yongbyon official reiterated the government's position that it is disabling the reactor as promised in the disarmament-for-aid deal, but that it has slowed down its compliance because the other countries were not meeting their commitments.

The October deal, along with a February 2007 agreement, call for North Korea to disable the reactor and other facilities and fully declare its nuclear programs in exchange for energy aid and other concessions.

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