October 13, 2008
N. Korea to Resume Breaking Down Its Main Nuclear Plant
By HYUNG-JIN KIM
By Hyung-Jin KimThe Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea
North Korea said Sunday it will resume disabling its key nuclear complex after the United States dropped the country from a terrorism blacklist - a breakthrough expected to help energize stalled talks aimed at ending the country's atomic ambitions.
The spat was the latest of many between Pyongyang and Washington that threatened to scuttle progress before eventually being settled. The international talks aimed at dismantling the communist country's nuclear program began five years ago.
This weekend's developments raised hopes that international nuclear talks could resume quickly and help improve ties between Washington and Pyongyang - Cold War adversaries, still technically at war.
Experts still predict a long, bumpy road ahead before North Korea's nuclear program is ever dismantled.
The next stage will be more complicated, said Cheong Seong- chang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute, a private security think tank near Seoul.
Cheong said Pyongyang could ask for increasingly difficult concessions such as the normalization of diplomatic ties with the United States and the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea before completely dismantl ing its plutonium-processing plant at Yongbyon.
U.S. officials had insisted they would not take the North off its list of terror-sponsoring countries unless it accepted an inspection of its nuclear program under an international agreement signed by North Korea, the United States and four other countries.
Washington's stance prompted the North to start reassembling the facilities at Yongbyon and to bar international monitors from the site.
On Saturday, however, Washington said it was taking the North off the list - which still includes Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria - saying Pyongyang had accepted all nuclear inspection demands.
Hours later, North Korea's Foreign Ministry announced it would restart disabling work and again allow U.S. and U.N. inspections at Yongbyon.
U.S. officials warned that North Korea could again be placed on the blacklist if it doesn't allow the inspections.
North Korea, for its part, said prospects for disarmament depend on whether the de-listing actually takes effect and Pyongyang receives all international aid promised under a 2007 deal .
Under the agreement, the North would abandon its nuclear programs to get diplomatic concessions and the equivalent of 1 million tons of oil aid. It has complained that it completed eight of 11 key disablement procedures, but has received only half the promised aid.
On Saturday The United States announced it was taking North Korea off the terrorism blacklist, saying Pyongyang had accepted all of its nuclear inspection demands. Hours later, North Korea's Foreign Ministry announced it would restart disabling work and again allow U.S. and U.N. inspections at Yongbyon.
On Sunday The North said it will resume disabling its key nuclear complex.
Originally published by BY HYUNG-JIN KIM.
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