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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

N. Korea Closes Its Reactor

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea is ready to start disabling its nuclear programs following the shutdown of its sole operating reactor, a North Korean diplomat said Sunday, as long as Washington lifts all sanctions against the communist nation.

Kim Myong Gil, minister at the North's mission to the United Nations in New York, confirmed that the reactor was shut down Saturday after receipt of a South Korean oil shipment, and said UN inspectors would verify the closure Sunday.

"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," Kim said.

IAEA inspectors were expelled from the North in late 2002 at the start of the nuclear crisis. A 10-member team arrived Saturday in North Korea to make sure the reactor at Yongbyon, about 100 kilometers north of the capital, was switched off -- the first step by the North to scale back its weapons program.

Kim also raised hopes for further progress on disarmament, but said that would only come if Washington takes actions "in parallel," including removing wider economic sanctions against Pyongyang and striking the country from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.

The oil the North received Saturday via a South Korean ship was an initial 6,200 tons of a total 50,000 tons as a reward for the reactor shutdown.