A working group of U.S. experts on Wednesday stopped over in Beijing en route to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to carry out work related to the disabling of the nuclear facilities.
The team, led by Sung Kim, director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Korea Affairs, is scheduled to arrive in Pyongyang on Thursday. The officials will work to create a plan for future teams to begin disabling the Yongbyon nuclear reactor.
As a first step, the U.S. expert group would stay in the DPRK for about a week before another team took over in a "baton pass," according to the State Department.
The DPRK agreed to disable all existing nuclear facilities and to provide a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs by the end of this year, according to a joint document released on Oct. 3 when the second phase of the sixth round of six-party talks ended in Beijing.
The document said the disabling of the five megawatt Experimental Reactor, the Reprocessing Plant (Radiochemical Laboratory) and the Nuclear Fuel Rod Fabrication Facility in Yongbyon would be completed by Dec. 31.
The United States would lead the disablement and provide initial funding, according to the document.
The six parties — China, the DPRK, the United States, the ROK(Republic of Korea), Russia and Japan — signed a landmark agreement on Feb. 13 that required the DPRK to declare all nuclear programs and disable all existing nuclear facilities, while the other parties must provide a total of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid to the DPRK.
The work on the next phase of the six-party talks "will be decided through consultation among the involved parties", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Tuesday.