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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 04:49 GMT 05:49 UK
UN team set to return to N Korea
North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. File photo
The international community has long wanted Yongbyon's shut down
A UN nuclear team plans to arrive in North Korea on Saturday to monitor the shutdown of Pyongyang's nuclear reactor, the UN nuclear watchdog says.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei was speaking upon his arrival in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Pyongyang has agreed to close its reactor in Yongbyon in exchange for energy aid.

It is part of a disarmament deal reached at six-party talks in February.

"I think they (the UN inspectors) will travel on the 14th, so hopefully they will arrive there on the 14th," Mr ElBaradei said in Seoul.

He said that it was not known if the reactor could be shut down before the inspectors arrived.

"We will verify that they will shut it. Whether they shut it before or not, that is immaterial."

Shut-down agreement

On Monday, the 35-nation board of the IAEA approved the mission to North Korea after being given the go-ahead by Pyongyang.

It will be the first time inspections have been allowed at Yongbyon since UN monitors were expelled in 2002.

The inspectors will install monitoring cameras and seals on equipment at the reactor, as part of a two-year mission that is expected to cost some $5m (2.48m).

The IAEA meeting was considering the findings of the organisation's deputy director general, Olli Heinonen, and his three-man team, when they visited North Korea last month.

Their report, seen by news agencies, says inspectors have been granted access to all the facilities that are to be shut down, and will be allowed to install all the necessary equipment needed to verify the closure.

North Korea agreed in February that it would shut down the Yongbyon reactor, which is capable of producing enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon each year.

The agreement was the result of long-running talks with the US, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan.




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