SEOUL – North Korea will likely start disabling its nuclear facilities in the mid-October, a news report said, as a team of U.S. experts prepared for a trip Tuesday to the communist country.
Disabling the nuclear facilities would take about 45 days, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said Sunday, citing unidentified officials.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry officials could not immediately available for comment on the report.
The North had promised to disable its main nuclear facilities and declare all its programs by the year's end in a disarmament accord reached last week with the United States, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.
North Korea's top nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, said that his country wants to disable the Yongbyon nuclear complex "as quickly as possible," according to Jeong Se-hyun, a former South Korean unification minister who met Kim during a second summit between the leaders of two Koreas in Pyongyang days ago.
The North is also likely to agree to removing core parts from its nuclear facilities and placing them under the oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet the deadline, Yonhap said.
The report came as a U.S. delegation, led by the U.S. State Department's top Korea expert Sung Kim, prepared to depart on for the North on Tuesday to create a plan for future teams to begin disabling the Yongbyon reactor.
The team, which includes technical experts from various U.S. government departments, will put in place the road map for the disablement at the end of the year, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said earlier.
Other teams would then go to North Korea to disable the facilities, he said.
A U.S.-led team of nuclear experts surveyed the North's main nuclear facilities last month.
The Yongbyon nuclear complex is believed to have produced enough plutonium for perhaps more than a dozen bombs — including the device North Korea detonated a year ago to prove its long-suspected nuclear capability.
Last week's deal is a follow-up to a broad agreement reached in February under which Pyongyang pledged to disable its nuclear programs in return for 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or other energy and economic assistance.