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North Korea promises steps to break nuclear-deal impasse

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North Korea has agreed to blow up a cooling tower attached to its main nuclear facility if the US removes it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move is the latest sign of a détente between Pyongyang and Washington, observers say.

A series of ongoing negotiations between North Korean and American officials has produced the agreement to destroy the tower at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The Washington Post reports that

[t]he destruction of the cooling tower is intended by US officials to be a striking visual, broadcast around the globe, that would offer tangible evidence that North Korea was retreating from its nuclear ambitions. Wisps of vapor from the cooling tower appear in most satellite photographs of Yongbyon, making it the facility's most recognizable feature, though experts say its destruction would be mostly symbolic.

Pyongyang also agreed to turn over thousands of documents related to activity at the Yongbyon plant, dating from 1990, a longstanding demand of the Bush administration. The Washington Times writes

"The North Koreans were more forthcoming than they have been in the past about their plutonium effort," a senior administration official said about last week's meetings.
"I'm talking about their willingness to disclose what their program looks like – the elements, how the whole thing was put together, the facilities and processes by which they came up with the plutonium for weapons," he said.
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