N. Korea will unload fuel rods in three months: U.S. scholar

Posted on : 2006-09-24 19:40 KST Modified on : 2006-09-24 19:40 KST

North Korea plans to unload fuel rods from its plutonium-based nuclear reactor in Yongbyon within three months, the Associated Press reported Saturday citing a U.S. scholar.

Selig Harrison told a press conference in Beijing shortly after returning from his five-day visit to the North that Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said the country will unload the rods ''beginning this fall, and no later than the end of the year,'' the report said.

Kim made it clear to the scholar that the purpose of the fuel removal was to obtain more plutonium for nuclear weapons, the report said.

Selig Harrison said, "They are speeding it up because they want to use Yongbyon as leverage to get bilateral negotiations with the United States,'' according to the report.

Kim also sought evidence that the U.S. does not plan to change the North Korean regime, the report said.

Selig Harrison, director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington, was told by the vice minister that he was the first U.S. scholar to visit North Korea this year.

Seoul, Sept. 23 (Yonhap News)

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