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PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- A North Korean diplomat confirmed that his country had shut down its sole operating nuclear reactor after receiving an initial shipment of oil aid and said U.N. inspectors would start verifying the closure on Sunday.
South Korean workers prepare a tanker bound for North Korea after being loaded with fuel oil Thursday in Ulsan.
If confirmed by the U.N. inspection team, the shutdown would be the North's first step in nearly five years toward de-nuclearization, one that comes after lengthy international talks.
"Immediately after the arrival of the first heavy fuel oil, the facilities were shut down and the (International Atomic Energy Agency) personnel will verify that maybe by now, or from today in Korea," Kim Myong Gil, minister at the North's mission to the United Nations in New York, told The Associated Press by telephone.
Saturday's delivery of 6,200 tons of heavy fuel oil from South Korea was the first of 50,000 tons promised to the North in exchange for shutting down its reactor in a deal with the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia. Pyongyang will eventually get 1 million tons of oil and other financial and political concessions.
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