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North Korea Banking Row To End In Days US Nuclear Envoy

Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, flew to Beijing at the weekend and held talks with officials from China's foreign ministry, the central bank and the country's banking industry regulator in a bid to break the financial impasse. "I have talked to him (Glaser), he is working very hard but it is a difficult process and there are a lot of technical problems which were unforeseen by everybody, including me," Christopher Hill (pictured), the top US envoy to the six-party nuclear talks told reporters after the forum.
by P. Parameswaran
Washington (AFP) March 26, 2007
A banking dispute that stalled North Korean nuclear disarmament talks could be resolved in a couple of days despite complex technical problems, the chief US envoy to the negotiations said Monday. The US Treasury is working with Beijing to transfer 25 million dollars frozen in 2005 in Macau's Banco Delta Asia, which the United States suspects are North Korea's proceeds from counterfeiting and money laundering.

Christopher Hill, the top US envoy to the six-party nuclear talks, said that, based on his discussions with a senior US Treasury official in Beijing, the dispute could end this week, paving the way for North Korea to shut down its main nuclear reactor and allow back into the country UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.

"As we get through this banking issue -- I believe we will in the next couple of days -- North Korea will have further discussions with the IAEA and by early part of April -- certainly by the first half of April -- we will have the reactor shut down, sealed and we will have international inspectors back," Hill told a Washington forum.

Pyongyang has agreed to admit IAEA inspectors as part of an agreement by the United States, Russia, China, the two Koreas and Japan on February 13 setting a timetable for the North to begin disarming.

The US effectively blacklisted the Macau bank on suspicion it was handling the proceeds of North Korean counterfeiting and money-laundering, but Washington cleared the way for the release of the funds as part of the nuclear accord.

However the fund's designated recipient, state-owned Bank of China, has allegedly refused to accept the money for fear the transaction may hurt its credit rating.

The latest round of six-party disarmament talks ended abruptly in Beijing last Thursday after Pyongyang refused to negotiate until it received the cash.

Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, flew to Beijing at the weekend and held talks with officials from China's foreign ministry, the central bank and the country's banking industry regulator in a bid to break the financial impasse.

"I have talked to him (Glaser), he is working very hard but it is a difficult process and there are a lot of technical problems which were unforeseen by everybody, including me," Hill told reporters after the forum.

"But we want to get it done so that the North Koreans will have no excuse" but to shut down the Yongbyon reactor by the middle of April as scheduled.

On reported reluctance by the Chinese authorities to receive what they feared was "tainted" money, Hill said, "I don't want to say the Chinese government do not want to receive the money. "The Chinese banking sector is going through a lot of changes, how the Chinese banks interact with the Chinese government is changing by the day. It is not so easy," he said.

Hill said it was wrong for the North Koreans "to hold up nuclear talks over a demand that the 25 million dollars be received in a bank account ahead of time.

"I think it is a very, very wrong-headed approach," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Iran Resumes Payments For Power Station Reports Russia
Moscow (AFP) Mar 26, 2007
Iran has resumed paying for construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant but has still to catch up after recent shortfalls, Russia's atomic energy agency said on Monday. In a statement, the Rosatom agency said the plant's contractor, Atomstroiexport, had "received the first payment for building of the Bushehr nuclear power station since the cut in financing."







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