Six countries involved in trying to get North Korea’s nuclear facilities closed down have arrived in Beijing for the latest round of talks. Pyongyang has already shut-down its atomic power station – a reactor which is also the source of weapons-grade plutonium – but, even so, delegates predict a bumpy road ahead.
The chief US negotiator, Christopher Hill, likened the process to a video-game, where each stage is more difficult than the last.
The envoys – from South Korea, America, China, Japan and Russia – now have to persuade North Korea to permanently disable the reactor, and explain certain equipment purchases and foreign contacts which indicate possible uranium enrichment.
Nuclear technicians from the International Atomic Energy Agency have now been allowed back into North Korea.
They have confirmed that the Yongbyon nuclear facility, 100km north of Pyongyang, was shut down, when the first shipment of 50,000 tonnes of oil arrived from South Korea.
If the energy-starved north is seen to completely disable its nuclear facilities, there is nearly a million tonnes of oil on offer, plus promises of security, and wider access to world trade.