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*****UPDATE*****

 North Korea plans to shut reactor in July: report

North Korea plans to seal its nuclear reactor, the source of weapons-grade plutonium, in the second half of July, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing an unidentified North Korean diplomatic source.

“To stop the reactor, it will take about a month according to our specialists,” the North Korean source was quoted as saying by Interfax.

“So we are counting on sealing it in the second half of July, in accordance with the agreements reached at the six-party talks,” the source said.

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill (L) and South Korea’s chief envoy to six-way talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear program Chun Yung-woo speak to reporters after their dinner at a hotel in Seoul June 18, 2007. The chief U.S. envoy in nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea said on Monday he hopes moves toward ending Pyongyang’s nuclear armament program can return to a tight timeline now that a banking dispute has been settled.

Envoy Sees North Korea Progress

North Korea could be ready to begin shutting its plutonium producing reactor within weeks as the first step toward disabling the unit by the end of this year, the top American negotiator on the North’s nuclear weapons program said here today.

Christopher Hill, an assistant secretary of state, said stalled efforts to dismantle the North’s nuclear weapons program could move ahead after a pivotal weekend when Pyongyang invited inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit for talks on verifying and monitoring a shutdown.

”This is an event we have been looking forward to for some time,” Mr. Hill said following talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei.

Today, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said it would send a team to Pyongyang next week to discuss how its inspectors would verify the shutdown, The Associated Press reported from Vienna.

Good news but Flap worries that North Korea has reneged before – so TRUST BUT VERIFY.

Also, word from Pyongyang is that the 65 year old Kim Jong-Il is ill and there appears a void in the leadership to succeed him.

Will this spell trouble for the conclusion of the agreement?

Stay tuned…….

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A satellite image from DigitalGlobe taken on January 5, 2006 shows the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea.

Previous:

North Korea Watch: North Korea’s Invite to the IAEA Welcome as Good News

North Korea Watch: North Korea Continues to Develop Nuclear Weapons

North Korea Watch: Deal or NO Deal?

North Korea Watch: North Korea Agrees to Nuclear Disarmament

North Korea Watch: North Korea Tentatively Agrees to Nuclear Disarmament

Iran Nuclear Watch: North Korea Helping Iran With Nuclear Testing

North Korea Watch: North Korea Wants United Nations Sanctions Lifted

North Korea Watch: Bush Warns North Korea – “Don’t Transfer Nukes”

North Korea Watch: A Return to 6 Party Talks – A Diplomatic Win for President Bush

North Korea Watch: Pyongyang Threatens War Against South Korea

North Korea Watch: Kim Jong-Il REGRETS Nuclear Test

North Korea Nuclear Watch: President Bush – United States WILL Stop North Korean Nuclear Transfers

North Korea Nuclear Watch: Condoleezza Rice Promises United States Defense of Japan

The North Korea Files


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