The North's actions set the stage for another round in six-party talks, scheduled to take place next week in Beijing.
SEOUL, South Korea
The flash and bang of the explosion of the cooling tower at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex provided a theatrical coda to a week in which the isolated nation partially declared its nuclear efforts and the United States, in response, took initial steps to remove the North from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The squat 60-foot tower, the most visible symbol of the complex where North Korea has been producing weapons-grade plutonium, was toppled in an event documented by networks from each of the countries participating in six-nation talks with the North. CNN, Japan's NHK network, South Korea's Munhwa Broadcasting Corp., and Chinese and Russian national networks were to have broadcast the explosion live – but videotaped shots of the tower tumbling in a cloud of smoke were shown several hours later.
South Korea's ruling Grand National Party and the opposition United Democratic Party agreed on the significance of the declaration. A spokesman for the conservative GNP called the declaration and demolition together "a historic day," while a spokesman for the liberal opposition called these events "a step on the road to peace.
Despite the dramatic gesture, however, analysts here remain skeptical as to whether the measures will have much long-range impact on progress toward denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
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