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North Korean nuclear disablement going well, South Korean official says

North Korean nuclear disablement going well, South Korean official says

A South Korean official insisted Thursday that work to disable North Korea's main nuclear facility was going smoothly, after a North Korean official warned the process would slow due to delays in receiving aid.
Hyun Hak Pong, a vice director-general at the North's Foreign Ministry, said Wednesday that economic compensation was "being delayed" and that meant the country had "no option but to adjust the speed of the disablement process."
The South Korean official, from the Foreign Ministry, said Hyun was not a top North Korean official and that it was unclear under what circumstances the remarks were made.
A team of U.S. experts is monitoring the work at the North's Yongbyon complex, north of Pyongyang.
"The disablement team is still in the site. The disablement works are being conducted smoothly," the South Korean official said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said Wednesday he was not aware of any slowdown in aid and the U.S. expects "further heavy fuel oil shipments and other energy assistance to move forward in the near future."
The North had promised to disable its nuclear complex by the end of the year in return for the equivalent of 1 million tons of oil from South Korea, the U.S., China and Russia. Pyongyang has so far received 150,000 tons of oil and 5,010 tons of steel products to renovate its aging power plants.
North Korea also is to give a declaration of its nuclear programs _ which Washington hopes to dismantle in 2008 _ by the end of the year.
However, a Japanese newspaper reported Thursday that the U.S. and North Korea disagree on the amount of plutonium _ a key ingredient for atomic bombs _ that the communist nation has produced.
The regional daily Tokyo Shimbun quoted unnamed U.S. and North Korean officials as saying the North has told the U.S. it has produced about 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of the nuclear material, considerably less than a U.S. estimates of more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds).
The South Korean Foreign Ministry was not immediately available to confirm the report.


Updated : 2021-03-05 00:55 GMT+08:00