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US Urges North Korea to Fulfill Nuclear Disarmament Commitments


The United States is calling on North Korea to fulfill its promises after Pyongyang missed a deadline to start shutting down its main nuclear reactor. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from Beijing.

Under a February 13th agreement, North Korea agreed to shut down its reactor at Yongbyon in exchange for economic aid and diplomatic concessions, by April 14th.

That did not happen. The North says it will not stop the reactor until it gets back all of the 25 million dollars that are being unfrozen at a Macau bank, despite assurances from Washington and others that Pyongyang will get its money.

The United States envoy to the nuclear negotiations, Christopher Hill, told reporters here Sunday the United States is not happy about the missed deadline. He says Washington has sent a message to North Korea - known officially as the D.P.R.K. - through the U.S. embassy in Beijing.

"We had, over the weekend, had sent a message to the D.P.R.K. to confirm that, in our view - and frankly speaking in everyone else's view - the accounts are open and therefore there is really nothing more we can be doing and it's their turn now. The ball's in their court," Hill says.

Mr. Hill returned to Washington Sunday after meeting with Chinese officials - the hosts of the six-way negotiations - who called for patience.

The process started in 2003 with South Korea, Japan, and Russia also participating. The talks stalled in 2005 after Pyongyang protested the freezing of its accounts at a bank in Macau during a U.S. investigation into money laundering.

The U.S. cleared the way for the funds to be released last month. However, the transfer of the money has been delayed by what officials say are banking technicalities.

Under the February agreement, North Korea is to re-admit international weapons inspectors and ultimately dismantle its nuclear programs.

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