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North Korea May be Preparing to Close Nuclear Reactor


Reports from South Korea say North Korea may be preparing to close its nuclear reactor at the center of a stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament process.

South Korean media said Tuesday that U.S. satellite images showed increased activity around the Yongbyon reactor, with unusual movement of people and vehicles.

The reports come after North Korea missed a Saturday deadline to implement a February agreement signed by the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. The agreement required it to begin dismantling its nuclear program under the eyes of U.N. nuclear inspectors by April 14th. In return Pyongyang has been promised fuel aid and other benefits.

On Monday, Russia's deputy foreign minister blamed the United States for the delay, saying Washington did not remove obstacles to give Pyongyang full access to 25 million dollars that were frozen in a Macau bank.

But U.S. officials said the funds had been released for North Korea last week.

Authorities in Macau froze the money in 2005 after the United States accused the bank of laundering money from the North.

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