UN nuclear inspectors arrive in North Korea

UN inspectors arrived in Pyongyang to supervise the start of denuclearisation of North Korea under according to a deal by North Korea.

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UN nuclear inspectors arrive in North Korea

BEIJING: UN inspectors arrived on Saturday in Pyongyang to supervise the start of the denuclearisation of North Korea under a deal in which the communist state agreed to begin shutting down its atomic weapons programme, Chinese state media reported.   

The 10-member team is to monitor and verify the shutdown of the main Yongbyon reactor under a February 13 deal in which North Korea agreed to scrap its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for economic aid and other benefits, Xinhua news agency said in a dispatch from Pyongyang.   

The inspectors refused to speak to reporters in the North Korean capital, Xinhua said. "We have all the equipment with us" to begin inspections, the head of the IAEA team, Adel Tolba, told reporters before leaving Beijing. "We will resume our role when we arrive."   

It is the International Atomic Energy Agency's first inspection mission to North Korea since 2002. North Korea previously kicked out UN weapons inspectors and pulled out of the global Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as it defied international opinion in pursuit of an atomic weapon.   

US chief nuclear envoy Christopher Hill said North Korea's main nuclear facility would be shut down by Monday. "We understood (that it would shut down) this weekend, so I don't know whether it's Saturday, Sunday or Monday," Hill said in Tokyo Saturday.    "I do know it's very soon," he said.   

Hill was in Tokyo ahead of a resumption of six-nation talks in Beijing next week on ending North Korea's nuclear programme.    North Korea has agreed to shut down the Yongbyon reactor as a first step to scrapping its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and security guarantees.   

But Pyongyang had also said it would not budge until it received a first shipment of fuel oil as part of the six-nation disarmament deal reached in February. The shipment arrived in a North Korean port early Saturday.   

The February deal was reached at six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.    The talks are set to resume on Wednesday amid rising hopes that years of delicate international negotiations could finally get North Korea to abandon the atom bomb. 

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