US continues North Korean fuel oil shipments

By OGJ editors

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 23 -- It's too soon to say whether new revelations by North Korea of a nuclear weapons program will spur US moves to suspend a fuel oil supply agreement, said US officials.

"There are many parties with equities in (the Korean Energy Development Organization), including South Korea, Japan, and the European Union," said Department of State spokesman Richard Boucher at a press briefing Monday. "We're consulting with friends and allies about next steps for KEDO, but we haven't made the decisions."

The US provides 500,000 tons of fuel oil each year to North Korea as part of a 1994 international agreement, under which North Korea was to stop building nuclear reactors that could be used for military purposes. Last week the US allowed a 43,500 metric ton shipment to be delivered, and officials said there may be future shipments while the US talks with its allies to find a diplomatic solution. President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet with leaders of China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea in coming weeks.

On Oct. 4, the North Korean government said the 8-year agreement was "nullified" after the US said it had evidence that a nuclear weapons program was continuing, despite the KEDO agreement.

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