North Korea indicated Wednesday it will slow down the disablement of its nuclear facilities because of a delay in receiving economic aid under an international deal.
Hyon Hak Pong, vice director-general of North Korea's Foreign Ministry, said economic compensation pledged by the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia in return for disabling its nuclear facilities by the end of 2007 "is being delayed," according to footage from broadcaster APTN.
"To cope with this, we have no option but to adjust the speed of the disablement process," Hyon said.
Hyon made the comments at a meeting with counterparts from South Korea and China in Pyongyang, where they discussed the issue of energy-related equipment going to the North under an international disarmament deal.
The three-day meeting was to end Thursday.
Diplomats have already said the year-end deadline to disable the facilities was unlikely to be met because a key step _ removing fuel rods from the nuclear reactor _ could take several months.
Under the international deal, North Korea pledged to disable all its nuclear programs by year's end in exchange for aid equivalent to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil and political concessions, including its removal from a U.S. terrorism blacklist.
North Korea began disabling key facilities at its nuclear complex north of Pyongyang last month under the watch of U.S. experts. Pyongyang has also promised to provide a complete list of all its nuclear programs by the end of the year, but has not yet done so.