North Korea destroys reactor’s cooling tower: Report

June 27th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, June 27 (DPA) North Korea Friday blew up the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear plant in a move towards dismantling its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of sanctions against the communist state, South Korean television station MBC reported. The demolition of the 25-metre tower, which was shut down in 2007, came a day after Pyongyang delivered a declaration of its nuclear programmes to China under an agreement reached at six-nation disarmament talks.

In exchange, the US agreed to ease some of its sanctions against North Korea and remove the communist state from its terrorism blacklist.

The reactor in Yongbyon, 100 km north of Pyongyang, produced the plutonium that North Korea used to conduct its first nuclear weapons test in October 2006.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak called North Korea’s destruction of the cooling tower there “a politically symbolic event indicative of its determination to disable its nuclear weapons programme.”

But Lee, who has seen strained ties with North Korea after making inter-Korean cooperation projects conditional on the North’s progress in dismantling its nuclear programmes in February, warned the demolition was an initial step.

“North Korea has many additional steps to carry out before its complete denuclearisation,” he said.

A representative of the Chinese government also called the demolition an important symbolic move and a good basis for a continuation of the six-nation talks.

China is the host of the five-year-long talks to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programmes and create a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. The other countries involved are the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the US.

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