US says N Korea to get infrastructure improvements

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WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (Reuters) The United States welcomed today a deal under which North Korea would disable its three main nuclear facilities at Yongbyon this year and said Pyongyang would receive infrastructure improvements in return.

''President (George W) Bush welcomes today's announcement, which outlines a roadmap for a declaration of the DPRK's nuclear programs and disablement of its core nuclear facilities by the end of the year,'' said White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

He was referring to North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test nearly a year ago and which US officials believe has enough plutonium to make at least eight or nine atomic bombs, by its official name -- the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The deal was hammered out over the weekend in talks among China, the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the United States.

If approved by all six parties and carried out by North Korea, the agreement would mark a step toward the US goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

Implementation of the agreement would end North Korea's production of plutonium, ''a major step towards the goal of achieving the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,'' Johndroe said.

Under agreements reached in the six-party talks, North Korea is to receive one million tonnes of heavy fuel oil or its equivalent for disabling all of its nuclear facilities and for providing a complete declaration of its nuclear programs.

Of this, 50,000 tonnes was provided earlier this year when North Korea shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

Separately, US Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill told reporters half of the remaining 950,000 tonnes would come in fuel oil and the rest in the ''refurbishment of plants, of electricity plans, and also some increase in their storage capacity to handle fuel oil.'' REUTERS RS RAI2218

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