U.N. Monitors Assess N. Korea's Nuclear Facility U.N. nuclear inspectors arrived in North Korea, five years after Pyongyang expelled their colleagues. The inspectors are there to agree on a way to shut down North Korea's main nuclear facility. The process, which has been slow and difficult, is expected to get more complicated as it proceeds.
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U.N. Monitors Assess N. Korea's Nuclear Facility

U.N. Monitors Assess N. Korea's Nuclear Facility

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U.N. nuclear inspectors arrived in North Korea, five years after Pyongyang expelled their colleagues. The inspectors are there to agree on a way to shut down North Korea's main nuclear facility. The process, which has been slow and difficult, is expected to get more complicated as it proceeds.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports on the road ahead.

ANTHONY KUHN: The International Atomic Energy Agency's top nuclear inspector, Olli Heinonen, said his team plans to spend three days discussing with the North Koreans how to shut down their main nuclear facility at Yongbyon. The North Koreans, he said, will decide the schedule for the shutdown.

OLLI HEINONEN: First of all, they are the ones who will shut it down and not us, so they have to make their own plans. And how long it will take, it depends little bit on them. So these are the details which we are going to discuss.

KUHN: At a press conference in Washington yesterday, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said these could be out of commission by year's end.

CHRISTOPHER HILL: What we're looking for in terms of shutting down this reactor, shutting down this complex in Yongbyon, is just the first step of many steps. But if all goes well, we would hope that by the end of the calendar year '07, we will have the facility shut down and disabled.

KUHN: Shi Wen Ji(ph) is a North Korea expert at Northeast China's Jilin University. He says a lot could go wrong before then.

SHI WEN JI: (Foreign language spoken)

KUHN: Christopher Hill said that on this trip Pyongyang did not admit to the highly enriched uranium or HEU program that Washington suspects it has.

HILL: Well, when the HEU program has come up, the North Koreans have said that they understand this is an important issue that needs to be resolved to mutual satisfaction, whatever that means.

KUHN: Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.

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