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North Korea Receives Last Shipment of Oil Under '94 Agreement - 2002-11-19

The last shipment of oil to North Korea from a U.S.-led group has arrived in North Korea. The delivery comes as North Korea clarifies a statement on nuclear weapons development.

The final oil shipment supplied under a 1994 arms control agreement is now in North Korea. The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, or KEDO, said the heating fuel arrived Monday. The U.S.-led group, which includes South Korea, Japan and the European Union, agreed last week to stop future fuel shipments to the energy-starved North.

The move is in response to Pyongyang's recent admission to a U.S. envoy that it is violating the 1994 pact. It had promised to freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for 500,000 tons of oil per year and two light water nuclear reactors.

KEDO has supplied up to 15 percent of North Korea's electricity output every year. Masanori Suzuki, a North Korea analyst in Tokyo, said the decision to halt deliveries will have a serious impact on the impoverished nation that has a limited ability to makeup for the shortfall.

Foreign aid agencies say some North Korean factories, including those which process food, may shut down and worsen food shortages. The last KEDO fuel shipment also comes as the North heads into a bitterly cold winter.

Despite concerns over the North's nuclear program, South Korea is moving forward with a landmark road and railway project across the four kilometer demilitarized zone dividing the peninsula.

North Korea also expressed the desire to cooperate Tuesday. A broadcast on the communist nation's state media pledged to push ahead on projects with the South, which include the road and rail project, reunions of divided families and business ventures.

That announcement comes one day after Radio Pyongyang clarified an earlier commentary, which appeared to acknowledge for the first time that the North possessed nuclear weapons. The rebroadcast was modified to say the nation was "entitled" to have, rather than "had come to have" nuclear weapons. In the Korean language, just one syllable separates the two meanings.

South Korea's government said Tuesday it was not happy with the clarification because it does not address international concerns over the nuclear weapons issue. A foreign ministry spokesman said his country is waiting for North Korea to officially respond to urgent international requests that it dismantle its weapons program.