SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said Sunday it will resume disabling its main nuclear facilities, hours after the United States removed the communist country from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry said it will again allow inspections by the U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency at its Yongbyon nuclear complex to verify the disablement process, pledged under an earlier disarmament-for-aid deal with the U.S. and four other regional powers.
"We welcome the U.S. which has honored its commitment to delist (North Korea) as 'a state sponsor of terrorism,"' the ministry said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea halted its nuclear disablement in mid-August in anger over what it called U.S. delays in removing it from the terror list and began moves toward restarting its plutonium-producing facility.
The U.S. had said North Korea first had to allow verification of the declaration of its nuclear programs it submitted in June. On Saturday, the U.S. said it took the North off the terrorism blacklist because it had agreed to all U.S. nuclear inspection demands.
U.S. officials said North Korea agreed to allow atomic experts to take samples and conduct forensic tests at all of its declared nuclear facilities and undeclared sites on mutual consent, and would permit them to verify that it has told the truth about transfers of nuclear technology and allegations it ran a separate secret uranium enrichment program.
Christopher Hill, Washington's top nuclear envoy for North Korea, visited the country earlier this month to try to resolve the impasse and salvage the earlier six-nation disarmament agreement.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry welcomed the U.S. decision to remove North Korea from the terrorist list and the North's corresponding moves to resume disablement work. It said the developments would put the six-party talks back on track and lead to North Korea giving up its nuclear programs.
"A key point is that North Korea should cooperate in verification procedures with sincerity," top South Korean nuclear envoy Kim Sook said Sunday.