The United States said Tuesday said it does not oppose the early shipment of energy aid to North Korea before it shuts down its nuclear reactor complex at Yongbyon. North Korea is due to get 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil in the first phase of the six-party accord under which Pyongyang is to eventually scrap its nuclear program. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Under the six-party agreement reached in February, North Korea was to get the first installment of fuel oil after it shuts down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

But officials here say that the United States will not stand in the way of early deliveries, provided that the North Koreans are acting in good faith to keep their part of the bargain.

The Pyongyang government is understood to have told South Korea, which is to supply the first installment of energy aid, that it wants the oil shipments to be underway before the reactor is shuttered.

In a talk with reporters, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has discussed the issue with South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon and that the early shipment of some of the oil is not something the United States opposes as long as the overall deal moves forward.

"If we end up in the next several weeks with the shutdown and sealing of Yongbyon and the IAEA back in, verifying that shutdown, and at the end of that time the North Koreans have their 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, then everybody's obligations will have been met."

McCormack said he does not think North Korea has asked for anything that is beyond the terms of the agreement.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency last week visited North Korea to discuss monitoring the reactor shutdown, in the first mission of its kind since the IAEA was expelled from the country in 2002.

North Korea is also required to disclose all its nuclear programs and materials including weapons in the first phase of the agreement, which is to be capped by a ministerial-level meeting of the six parties in Beijing as early as the first week in August.

Over the long term, Pyongyang is to receive a total of one million tons of fuel oil or equivalent aid and diplomatic benefits in return for the irreversible dismantling of its nuclear program. North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last year and is believed to possess several others.