North Korea to begin nuclear verification within one month

July 11th, 2008 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 11 (DPA) North Korea has agreed to begin international verification of its plutonium inventory within one month, marking a key step towards dismantling its nuclear programme, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Friday. “North Korea has agreed to begin the process (of verification) before the US measure to remove it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism takes effect on Aug 11,” the agency quoted unidentified sources as saying.

News of the agreement came as envoys from six nations were scheduled to hold a second day of talks in Beijing on ending North Korea’s nuclear programme, following a nine-month break in negotiations.

North Korea submitted a long-awaited declaration of its nuclear activities in late June, under an agreement with the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

The day after handing over the declaration to China, North Korea destroyed a cooling tower at its Yongbyon plant in a move to show it would dismantle its controversial programme.

Chinese envoy Wu Dawei Thursday said this week’s meetings could “serve as a turning point to further push the six-party talks to a new stage.”

US negotiator Christopher Hill said the United States hoped to set a timetable for concluding the second phase of the talks by the autumn.

Under the second phase, North Korea must disable and dismantle its main nuclear facilities in return for energy aid from the other five parties, who require verification of Pyongyang’s compliance.

“Obviously we are going to focus very much on the verification regime to wrap up this phase,” Hill said.

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