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UN Inspectors Ready to Verify Shutdown of North Korea's Reactor

U.N. inspectors are set to begin verifying North Korea's announcement that it has shut down its main nuclear reactor.

The U.S. chief nuclear envoy, Christopher Hill, told reporters in Tokyo that the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are ready to begin their work Sunday.

The inspectors arrived in Pyongyang Saturday, as North Korea informed the United States it had shut down its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.

South Korea Sunday welcomed the North's announcement. The Foreign Ministry in Seoul said it is an encouraging step in the nuclear disarmament process.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says Washington hopes for rapid progress in implementing the next phase of the six-nation agreement on ending North Korea's nuclear program.

North and South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia are to discuss that next phase Wednesday in Beijing.

In February, North Korea agreed to declare all its nuclear programs and disable its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and political concessions.

North Korea's long-awaited action on the Yongbyon facility follows the arrival Saturday of the first shipment of fuel from South Korea.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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