17 February, 2008

N. Korea Slowing Disarmament

North Korea has slowed nuclear disarmament to a snail's pace because it has received only part of the energy aid it was promised in return and does not believe it has made progress toward being removed from the U.S. state terrorism list, a delegation of U.S. experts reported Saturday.

The experts said they had broad access to North Korean nuclear facilities and held discussions with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Pyongyang, the capital, during their four-day private visit to the isolated nation.

Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford University professor and former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, said he and his colleagues -- Joel Witt, a former diplomat associated with the National Academy of Sciences, and W. Keith Luse, an assistant to Sen. Richard L. Lugar (R-Ind.) -- were told that North Korea remains committed to a landmark Oct. 3 agreement. Under terms of that pact, it promised to carry out a staged disarmament that includes, as a first step, disabling the plutonium processing plant at Yongbyon that is its main source of nuclear weapons material.


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