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N. Korea to Let U.S. Experts See Nuke Site

January 2, 2004

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea has agreed to allow a U.S. delegation to visit its main nuclear complex next week, a South Korean official said Friday.

The trip would mark the first time outsiders have been allowed to inspect North Korea’s main nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, since the communist country expelled U.N. nuclear monitors in late 2002.

USA Today first reported Friday that Washington approved the trip and it was scheduled for Jan. 6-10. The newspaper said the U.S. delegation would include Sig Hecker, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1985 to 1997. The laboratory produced the first U.S. nuclear bomb.

``The report is true,″ an official at the South Korean Foreign Ministry said. ``The U.S. side has informed us of the trip.″

USA Today said the delegation also included a China expert from Stanford University, two Senate foreign policy aides who have previously visited Pyongyang and a former State Department official who has negotiated with North Korea.

Jason Rebholz, a spokesman of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, said he had no information on the trip and could not comment on the news report.

North Korea is believed to be running a nuclear weapons program at Yongbyon. The United States is trying to persuade the North to give up its nuclear program in return for aid and better ties with the outside world.

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