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16 Jun, 2007 15:58

N. Korea invites UN nuke inspectors

North Korea has invited inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss shutting down the country's Yongbyon reactor. The United States is welcoming North Korea’s decision calling it “very good news”.

The original agreement was reached last February at the six-party talks, which involve Russia, the United States, Japan, China, North and South Koreas.

North Korea promised to go back to negotiating table, start denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and wrap up its nuclear activities if the money belonging to North Korea in a Macau bank was unfrozen.

It took several months to find banks which would agree to be mediators for the money transfer, as banking organisations were afraid of sanctions that could have been imposed by the U.S.

Russia agreed to take part in the scheme only after it received North Korea’s approval and guarantees from U.S. financial authorities.

The money transfer was done in several stages. At first, the funds were to be channeled through the Central Bank of Macau to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then – through Russia's Central Bank to Dalcombank in Russia's Far East, where Pyongyang has an account.

However, the money didn't reach its target immediately due to technical problems.

“The money was transferred, it's in Russia, and they're having some technical problems in getting it to the bank where the actual North Korean accounts are. So, we hope that they will overcome these technical problems. One thing I know is it's not in Macau, it's not in the US, it's in Russia,” Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State and top U.S. nuclear negotiator, commented.

The $ US 25 MLN was frozen in September 2005 under pressure from the United States.

It insisted that Pyongyang was involved in money laundering, counterfeiting and the illegal sale of weapons.

North Korea was due to close down its Yongbyon reactor by April 14 this year in exchange for economic and political incentives, including fuel and food supplies.