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KEDO Stops Shipments of Fuel Oil to N. Korea

The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization KEDO decided late Thursday to stop shipments of heavy fuel oil to North Korea, beginning in December.

KEDO will allow an oil shipment that is already on its way to North Korea to proceed, but will suspend further shipments until North Korea eliminates its nuclear weapons program in a "verifiable and visible manner."

The decision was made by KEDO's Executive Board, representatives of the United States, the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

Last month, North Korea admitted that it had continued to develop its nuclear program in violation of a 1994 agreement. In that agreement North Korea agreed to suspend operation of nuclear reactors capable of producing weapons-grade material in return for 500 metric tons of fuel oil every year and other aid.

The United States has pushed for an end to the fuel oil assistance program in the wake of the North Korean disclosure.

KEDO's Executive Board made the decision during a closed-door meeting at its New York headquarters. In a statement released at the end of the meeting, the Board condemned North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear weapons program and said further shipments of oil "will depend on North Korea's concrete and credible actions to dismantle completely its highly-enriched uranium program."

The Board also indicated that future KEDO activities will hinge on North Korea's response to demands that it stop its nuclear program.