IAEA: North Korea to begin shutting down nuclear reactor next week

Thursday, July 12, 2007

According to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, North Korea will begin to shut down their nuclear reactor in Nyongbyon as early as next week, and should be completed with the process in about a month.

Top of the core of the 5 MWe Yongbyon nuclear reactor, showing the fuel channels.
Image: IAEA.

"[The whole process will be done in] a month or so. A couple of weeks ago we reached an understanding on the modalities on how to work with the DPRK on shutting down the five nuclear facilities at Yongbyon," said ElBaradei to reporters in Seoul, South Korea during a press conference.

"I expect that operation to move smoothly," added ElBaradei.

South Korea has shipped approximately 50,000 tons of oil to North Korea, and the North said that they will begin to shut down the reactor when it arrives. The oil is expected to arrive in North Korea on July 14.

"We should not delude ourselves. It will take time to have a comprehensive solution," added Elbardei.

According to China's Foreign Ministry, six-party talks with North Korea start on July 18. China will be the host for the talks.