S. Korea completes oil shipment to North

July 30, 2007 - 0:0

SEOUL (AFP) -- South Korea shipped the last consignment of heavy fuel oil to North Korea Sunday under the first stage of an aid-for-disarmament nuclear pact, officials said.

A ship carrying the fifth and final consignment of 22,600 tons left the southern port of Ulsan for North Korea early Sunday, Jeong Gil-Ju, an official of Ulsan maritime and fisheries office, told AFP. The vessel is headed to the North's northeastern port of Sonbong, he said. Previous shipments on the route usually take a day or two. Under the first phase of a six-nation February disarmament pact, energy-starved North Korea is to receive 50,000 tons of oil in return for shutting down and sealing its Yongbyon reactor in the presence of UN atomic inspectors. South Korea launched the promised energy aid on July 12 with the first shipment of 6,200 tons. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed North Korea's shutdown of its five main nuclear facilities, including a plutonium-producing reactor, at Yongbyon since mid-July. A second team of the agency arrived in North Korea Saturday to continue monitoring the secretive state's shutdown of its nuclear weapons programmes. The North will receive another 950,000 tons of oil or equivalent aid, as well as major diplomatic and security concessions, if it permanently disables all its nuclear facilities and declares all its programmes. North Korea confirmed that it would abide by the agreement earlier this month when the six-party talks -- grouping the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia -- resumed in Beijing. Working group meetings are to follow next month to negotiate and set a deadline for North Korea to declare and disable all its nuclear programmes. A working-group meeting on aid to North Korea will likely open at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Seoul, on August 8-9, Yonhap news agency said Sunday citing unnamed government officials