U.N. inspectors have verified that North Korea has shut down its sole functioning nuclear reactor, news reports said Monday.
``Our inspectors are there. They verified the shutting down of the reactor yesterday,'' said the Associated Press quoted Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as saying.
``The process has been going quite well and we have had good cooperation from North Korea. It's a good step in the right direction,'' ElBaradei said, speaking in Bangkok ahead of an event sponsored by Thailand's Science Ministry, according to the AP.
North Korea pledged in an international accord in February to shut the reactor at Yongbyon
and dismantle its nuclear programs in return for 1 million tons of oil and political concessions. However, it stalled for several months because of a separate, but now-resolved dispute with the U.S. over frozen bank funds.
The shutdown over the weekend, confirmed by a 10-member team of IAEA inspectors who arrived in North Korea on Saturday, was the first on-the-ground achievement toward scaling back Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions since the international standoff began in late 2002.
The Yongbyon reactor generates plutonium for atomic bombs; North Korea conducted its first nuclear test explosion in October.