North Korea has told a visiting US delegation that it will miss Saturday's deadline to begin shutting down its main nuclear reactor but could start within 30 days, NBC News reported today.
The US delegation believes it convinced the Pyongyang regime it would soon receive funds in a frozen Macau bank account, which had been an obstacle to North Korea's agreement to begin dismantling its nuclear weapons program, the US television network said.
The promise led North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan to tell the US delegation that it could start closing the Yongbyon nuclear reactor and allow UN atomic inspectors back in within 30 days.
Former UN ambassador Bill Richardson, who led the US delegation in Pyongyang, will announce the agreement today in Seoul when he meets there with the US pointman on North Korea negotiations, Christopher Hill, NBC said.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said earlier that Macau's monetary authority had agreed to open the accounts to their owners.
In the first phase of a six-country agreement reached in February, Pyongyang had agreed to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor by this Saturday in exchange for badly needed fuel oil.