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Russia questions North Korea's commitment to nuclear shutdown

MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea may not be ready to fully commit to its pledge to close down the country's nuclear facilities, the Russian envoy to the six-party talks said Friday.

"I don't think our North Korean colleagues are ready for this [complete denuclearization], and a great deal of intrigue is going to unfold around this issue," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov told RIA Novosti.

The sixth round of six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization will resume in Beijing September 27. The talks, involving China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas, were postponed earlier this week on the request of Pyongyang for undisclosed reasons.

Losyukov said the upcoming talks will focus on concrete methods of dismantling N. Korea's nuclear facilities to make the process irreversible.

"We will listen to expert conclusions at the plenary meetings and we will try to understand how far we can go in this [denuclearization] process," he said.

According to the Russian diplomat, it is still too early to set a specific date for a six-party meeting at the ministerial level to assess progress in Pyongyang's commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Under the agreement reached in Beijing in February, North Korea pledged to permanently disable its nuclear facilities and provide a full account of its nuclear weapon activities.

In exchange, the North will receive 950,000 metric tons of fuel oil for its thermal power-generating plants, in addition to the 50,000 already delivered for the reactor's closure.

The February agreement was considered a breakthrough after more than three years of negotiations following Pyongyang's withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and the country's carrying out of a nuclear bomb test last October.

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