Russia hails North Korea for demolishing n-reactor towerJune 27th, 2008 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, June 27 (RIA Novosti) Russia Friday welcomed the demolition of a cooling tower in North Korea’s main nuclear reactor complex at Yongbyon as a move toward the communist country’s de-nuclearisation promise in return for aid packages. “We welcome this step, and consider it one of the first real measures aimed at achieving the ultimate goal - to free the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons,” a foreign ministry statement said.
According to the South Korea television, the 20-metre cooling tower at Yongbyon nuclear facility was demolished shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.
Although the demolition was a rather symbolic move, as Pyongyang has closed its Yongbyon nuclear facility last year and has already begun disabling other units, it is being taken as a positive sign that the country is serious about its nuclear disarmament.
The demolition came after North Korea handed over detailed data on its nuclear activities to China Thursday, breaking a deadlock in nuclear disarmament talks with the six-party group - the US, South Korea, Russia and Japan, besides North Korea.
The six-party talks stalled late last year, when Pyongyang missed a deadline to transfer nuclear data as part of a deal under which the North was promised economic aid and diplomatic incentives.
Following North Korea’s declaration the US announced it would lift unilateral trade sanctions against the communist country and remove it from a terrorism blacklist.
US President George W. Bush told reporters the move was “a step in the right direction,” but added that Washington remained concerned about North Korea’s uranium enrichment activities and suspected sales of nuclear technology to other countries.
North Korea’s “nuclear declaration” also dominated the agenda of the two-day Group of Eight (G8) meeting in Japan. The G8 top diplomats welcomed the document but stressed in a joint statement the importance of a thorough verification process under UN resolutions 1695 and 1718.
According to various estimates, Pyongyang has secretly produced about 35-50 kg of weapons-grade plutonium and shook the world in 2006 by conducting an underground nuclear test.
The test had spurred the current six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.