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Page last updated at 07:01 GMT, Saturday, 10 May 2008 08:01 UK

US welcomes N Korea nuclear move

Sung Kim (C) carries a box as he crosses into South Korea, 10 May, 2008
US delegates carried boxes detailing Pyongyang's plutonium programme

The US has described the handing over of documents by North Korea detailing the country's nuclear programme as an "important first step".

A US envoy crossed into South Korea on Saturday with documents about North Korea's nuclear activities, as part of efforts to disarm the state.

The State Department said the 18,000 pages covered some three reprocessing campaigns by the North Koreans.

The pages will contribute towards a declaration on past nuclear activities.

"The United States and the other parties continue to press [North Korea] to fulfil its declaration commitment," said the State Department statement.

Yongbyon reactor

Sung Kim, director of the State Department's Korea office, and three other delegates returned to South Korea by land after a three-day visit to North Korea.

A TV image shows North Korean workers at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, 22 February 2008
North Korea closed down the Yongbyon reactor last year

The delegation carried with them seven cardboard boxes with details of North Korea's plutonium programme, which are due to be taken to Washington for examination.

The documents log activities at North Korea's plutonium reactor at Yongbyon, which is thought to have produced the material for a nuclear test in 2006.

The communist state shut down the reactor last year, but failed to meet a deadline to give a full account of its nuclear activities.

Pyongyang had agreed in February 2007 to give up its nuclear weapons programme in return for large-scale aid and the lifting of sanctions.

The deal was agreed following six-party talks between China, the US, Japan, Russia and North and South Korea.

Sceptics

The BBC's John Sudworth reports from South Korea that the Yongbyon documents will provide an important glimpse into North Korea's bomb-making past, though some will question just how much new information they will contain.

Doubts over North Korea's other nuclear activities remain, in particular its alleged secret uranium enrichment programme and the transfer of nuclear technology to Syria, he says.

Those are the issues that have been holding up progress on last year's agreement.

North Korea has reportedly agreed to a compromise solution under which it will merely acknowledge US concerns.



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