North Korea Shuts Down Yongbyon Reactor

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The United States has been informed that the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon has been shut down by the North Korean government. The news came just hours after oil was delivered to the Stalinist state. The shutdown has not been independently confirmed by the IAEA yet, however.

"The US has been informed Saturday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea shut down its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.

"We welcome this development and look forward to the verification and monitoring of this shutdown by the International Atomic Energy Agency team that has arrived in the DPRK," he said.

A US official said that Washington was informed of the shutdown through North Korea's mission to the United Nations.

The announcement came after UN inspectors, carrying 100 cases of equipment weighing about one ton, arrived in Pyongyang to supervise the reactor shutdown.

Their arrival was the first step in the February 13 deal under which Pyongyang agreed to scrap its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees, including 50,000 tons of fuel oil aid from South Korea. The first 6,200-ton shipment arrived early Saturday.

McCormack said Saturday the United States, together with all the partners in the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program — the two Koreas, Japan, China and Russia — look forward further progress.

"We, along with all our other Six-Party partners, remain firmly committed to achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the implementation of the September 2005 Joint Statement," McCormack said in reference to a prior declaration before talks broke off two years ago.

Hopefully there are plans to have the North Koreans hand over their weapons grade fuel as well, but I have not seen any mention of that at this point. But that stuff needs to be accounted for and stored safely or disposed of.

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