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North Korea Reactor Resumes Operations

right on time
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Jun 04, 2007
North Korea's only nuclear reactor has resumed operations after suspending them briefly last month, South Korea's spy agency said Monday. The Yongbyon reactor, whose spent fuel rods produce atomic raw material to make bombs, "was shut down for about 10 days but resumed operations recently," a spokesman for the National Intelligence Service told AFP without elaborating.

The five-megawatt plant apparently suspended operations due to mechanical problems, an intelligence official was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying.

The official dismissed a media report that the North may be preparing either for a permanent shutdown under a February disarmament accord, or for the extraction of the spent rods for reprocessing into weapons-grade plutonium.

"We believe the operation of the reactor was halted because of a mechanical problem," the official said. "It is not seen as having anything to do with the North's commitment to the February 13 deal."

Under the first stage of the six-nation deal, the North was to shut down Yongbyon in the presence of UN atomic inspectors.

But it has refused to budge until it receives 25 million dollars which had been frozen in a Macau bank since 2005 under US-inspired sanctions.

Washington said the accounts were unfrozen in March but the North has had problems finding a foreign bank to transfer money seen as tainted.

At a meeting on Sunday the foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan called for flexibility to end the complex financial dispute.

South Korea's Song Min-Soon, China's Yang Jiechi and Japan's Taro Aso said it was in everyone's interests to honour the February accord.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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North Korea Says Show Us The Money Or No Nuke Deal
Seoul (AFP) June 01, 2007
North Korea has rejected a US suggestion that it start shutting down its nuclear programme before a long-running banking dispute is settled, saying the cash row must be resolved beforehand. "Our position has been clear from the beginning," Kim Myong-Gil, deputy chief of the North Korean mission to the United Nations, told South Korea's Yonhap news agency by phone Thursday. "The issue of BDA (Banco Delta Asia) has to be solved first."

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