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US nuclear experts expelled from NKorea: Xinhua

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 17, 2009
Four US experts monitoring the shutdown of a North Korean nuclear plant were expelled Friday from the isolated nation, Chinese media reported, days after they were told to leave.

The four departed Pyongyang's Sunan airport for Beijing "under the DPRK's (North Korea's) expulsion order," Xinhua news agency said.

North Korea on Tuesday pulled out of nuclear disarmament talks and ordered US and UN nuclear inspectors out of the country after the United Nations Security Council condemned Pyongyang for an April 5 rocket launch.

The UN nuclear inspectors left North Korea on Thursday.

The US Embassy in Beijing said it was unaware of the departure of the American nuclear experts and declined immediate comment.

The hardline communist state also announced plans to restart production of weapons-grade plutonium at its Yongbyon plant that had been shut down under an agreement reached at the disarmament talks.

The Yongbyon complex produced enough plutonium for a 2006 nuclear test and for several other bombs until it was closed in 2007 under a six-nation deal brokered with China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

North Korea has previously threatened to quit the six-party talks, which began in 2003 and several times came close to collapse.

But its Tuesday statement announced it would "never" take part in such discussions again and was no longer bound by any six-party agreements.

Pyongyang appears to be pushing instead for bilateral talks with the United States, analysts say.

"We hope that the United States and North Korea will improve their relationship and develop it," Japan's Nikkei economic daily quoted Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as saying in an interview in Beijing on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the United States said that a committee under the UN Security Council was meeting on expanding sanctions against North Korea that were put in place after Pyongyang's first-ever atomic bomb test in 2006.

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NKorea needs time to make good on nuke threat: analysts
Seoul (AFP) April 17, 2009
North Korea will need a few months to carry out its defiant threat to restart its nuclear weapons programme, analysts say, giving diplomats time to try to persuade it to change course.

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