Mon, Jul 30, 2007 - Page 4 News List

S Korea ships oil to North


South Korea shipped the last consignment of heavy fuel oil to North Korea yesterday under the first stage of an aid-for-disarmament nuclear pact, officials said.

A ship carrying the fifth and final consignment of 20,500 tonnes left the southern port of Ulsan for North Korea early yesterday, said Jeong Gil-ju, an official of Ulsan maritime and fisheries office.

The vessel is headed to the North's northeastern port of Sonbong, he said. Previous shipments on the route take a day or two.

Under the first phase of a six-nation February disarmament pact, energy-starved North Korea is to receive 45,000 tonnes of oil in return for shutting down and sealing its Yongbyon reactor in the presence of UN atomic inspectors.

South Korea launched the promised energy aid on July 12 with the first shipment of 5,600 tonnes.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that North Korea has shut down its five main nuclear facilities, including a plutonium-producing reactor, at Yongbyon since mid-July.

A second team of the agency arrived in North Korea on Saturday to continue monitoring the secretive state's shutdown of its nuclear weapons programs.

The North will receive another 862,000 tonnes of oil or equivalent aid, as well as major diplomatic and security concessions, if it permanently disables all of its nuclear facilities and declares all its programs.

North Korea confirmed that it would abide by the agreement earlier this month when the six-party talks -- including North Korea, South Korea, China, the US, Japan and Russia -- resumed in Beijing.

Working group meetings are to follow next month to negotiate and set a deadline for North Korea to declare and disable all its nuclear programs. A meeting on aid will likely open on Aug. 8.

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