KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - UN inspectors have verified that North Korea
has shut down four more nuclear facilities beyond its sole working reactor, the
chief of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said Wednesday.
verified all the five nuclear facilities have been shut down," said Mohamed
ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
measures have been put in place, including sealing some of these facilities,"
ElBaradei told reporters during a visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
expect that in the next few weeks, we will continue to apply the necessary
monitoring and verification measures."
On Monday, ElBaradei announced
that his team of inspectors had verified the shutdown of North Korea's only
working nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of
The four additional facilities include two long-dormant
construction sites for larger reactors, and facilities for making reactor fuel
and reprocessing it.
ElBaradei said the shutdown of the five facilities
was "a very good, positive step, but it's (the) very first step in a long road
"Obviously we will have to go beyond Yongbyon if we want to
verify that all nuclear material, all nuclear activities in (North Korea) have
been declared," he said. "That obviously means we might have to go to different
places, that we might have to ask a variety of a questions, we might have to
inspect different facilities."
ElBaradei expressed hopes that North
Korea would declare its inventory of all nuclear facilities and material "as
early as possible," but he said he could not tell whether Pyongyang's
declaration and nuclear disablement could be completed by the end of the year,
which Washington hopes.
"A lot of it depends on progress in the
six-party talks," he said, referring to negotiations involving China, Japan,
Russia, the US and the two Koreas, whose delegates gathered Wednesday in Beijing
to chart steps ahead for North Korea's disarmament.
"What is really
important is full transparency by (North Korea)," ElBaradei said. "The more
transparency we get, the quicker we will be able to verify that everything in
(North Korea) has been declared to us."
US says much work
to be done at NK talks
US envoy Christopher Hill said there was much work to be done at Wednesday's
new round of six-party talks on reining in North Korea's nuclear programme but
held out the hope of agreeing to a disarmament schedule.
Chief negotiators will spend two
days seeking to agree on a timetable for the next phase of North Korea's retreat
from its nuclear programme now that it has shut its Yongbyon nuclear reactor.
US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill speaks
to reporters as he leaves his hotel in Beijing July 18, 2007.
Hill told reporters late on Tuesday that in a meeting with North Korea's
chief negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, he had pressed the idea of a timetable that
would conclude the second phase of disarmament by the end of the year.
That would involve North Korea's declaration of all its nuclear activities
and permanently disabling Yongbyon.
"We all know that we've got a long road ahead of us with many steps," he told
reporters on Wednesday. "Maybe we could try to agree on getting these next phase
things done in calendar year 07."
There had been no agreement on plans for that phase yet, he said, but North
Korea and the United States seemed to be in the same "general vicinity".
Part of the phase would include pushing forward working groups which would
deal with technical aspects of any agreement and improving political relations.
The third phase would require North Korea handing over fissile nuclear
materials and other atomic arms infrastructure.
Hill said on Tuesday said he could not speak for the North Koreans but that
he felt they seemed receptive. "I think we're on the same ballpark," he said.
North Korea's official Workers' Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said the
United States must remove "all nuclear war equipment" from South Korea,
illustrating North Korea's long-held suspicions of US hostile intent.
"The United States must verifiably and objectively prove that it has no
nuclear weapons in South Korea and has no intention to attack or invade us with
nuclear or conventional weapons, as it said in the September 19 joint statement
of the six-party talks," the newspaper said, quoted by the KCNA news agency.
The United States denies keeping nuclear weapons in South Korea.
The US State Department has said that International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) technicians who arrived in North Korea over the weekend had verified the
shutdown of the Yongbyon reactor and expected to verify the status of four other
nuclear facilities, including a spent fuel reprocessing plant, by Wednesday.