VIENNA -- A U.N. atomic watchdog agency has authorized its inspectors to visit North Korea to verify the shutdown of the country's nuclear facilities.
Earlier, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors ratified a report submitted by agency head Mohamed ElBaradei on the shutdown verification procedures. The shutdown of North Korea's main nuclear facilities in Yongbyon will take place under an agreement reached in February at the Six-Party talks made up of the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas.
The ratified document provides the legal basis for the agency's upcoming mission, China's official Xinhua agency reported Monday.
The inspection will begin immediately after North Korea receives its first batch of fuel oil, expected later this week, Xinhua said.
In February, North Korea agreed to shut down the Yongbyon reactor within 60 days of receiving 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid. But that deadline could not be met because the issue of North Korean funds frozen in a Macao bank had yet to be resolved, the report said.
The money issue was resolved recently, which allowed an IAEA delegation to visit North Korea last month to draw up the verification procedures.
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