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UN Inspectors to Visit North Korean Nuclear Reactor

United Nations inspectors are expected to visit the main reactor of North Korea's controversial nuclear weapons program Thursday.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials are in Pyongyang for a five-day visit to discuss closing down North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Korean officials had not formally approved the trip to the secretive Yongbyon plutonium reactor until Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, the White House sharply criticized North Korea for reportedly launching short range missiles off its eastern coast earlier in the day.

A spokesman said the White House was "deeply troubled" by the missile test that was conducted as negotiators prepare to resume six-party talks.

In February, North Korea agreed to shut down the Yongbyon reactor as the first phase of a deal with China, Russia, the United States, Japan and South Korea. The deal gives the North emergency energy aid and diplomatic benefits in exchange for shutting down its nuclear weapons program.

But the agreement had been stalled in recent months because of a dispute involving North Korean funds frozen at a Macau bank. The funds were returned in recent days, paving the way for more talks and a visit by inspectors.

European Union officials who recently visited Pyongyang say Korean officials appear to be serious about shutting down the Yongbyon reactor.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.