North Korea to start nuclear rollback in Nov-South

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SEOUL, Oct 24 (Reuters) North Korea will start disabling its Soviet-era nuclear facility that makes arms-grade plutonium in November, as called for in a deal the state struck with regional powers, the South's foreign minister said today.

North Korea reached an agreement this month with five countries to disable its Yongbyon nuclear plant in exchange for energy aid and an end to its status as an international pariah.

''We expect the actual disablement process to start in early November,'' Song Min-soon said in a speech in Seoul.

Earlier, at a separate news briefing, he said: ''There are some details left but we have, in effect, agreed on the detailed measures for disablement.'' US nuclear experts this month visited the North, which conducted its first nuclear test a year ago, to help draw up plans on disabling its antiquated reactor, a plant that produces fuel rods and another that turns spent fuel into plutonium.

By the end of 2007, North Korea is also supposed to fully account for its plutonium stockpile -- thought by the United States to be about 50 kg -- and answer US suspicions that it has a clandestine plan to enrich uranium for weapons.

REUTERS ARB SSC1146

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