S Korea agrees to ship raw materials to North this month

SEOUL - South Korea agreed Saturday to start shipping raw materials to North Korea this month after the communist state said it would consider shutting down its nuclear reactor early.

By (AFP)

Published: Sat 7 Jul 2007, 5:12 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:16 PM

The agreement followed a two-day economic meeting between the two Koreas at the North’s border city of Kaesong, the South’s unification ministry said.

South Korea has promised to provide 80 million dollars’ worth of raw materials to help its impoverished neighbour produce clothing, footwear and soap in exchange for its natural resources.

Under Saturday’s deal, South Korea will ship five million tons of polyester fabric worth 800,000 dollars to the North on July 25, the ministry said, adding the shipment of raw materials would be completed in November.

South Korean experts will be allowed to survey North Korea’s zinc and magnesite deposits from July 28, it said.

The deal came a day after the South promised to send its first shipment of fuel oil to the North next Thursday under a six-nation disarmament agreement in February.

In response, North Korea said it would consider shutting down its nuclear reactor as soon as the first shipment reaches its soil.

North Korea agreed in February to shut down and seal its key Yongbyon reactor, which produces the raw material for bomb-making plutonium, in return for 50,000 tons of oil from South Korea.

But a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said Friday that the shutdown could now occur ‘without waiting for the total quantity of heavy oil to reach its port.’

The North’s decision to consider speeding up the closure was prompted by ‘the desire to facilitate the process of the six-party talks,’ he said.

More news from Business