SOUTH KOREAN REFINER SHIPPING OIL TO THE NORTH

SOUTH KOREAN REFINER SHIPPING OIL TO THE NORTH

A South Korean oil refiner began loading 20,000 tons of fuel oil Wednesday onto a Chinese tanker bound for North Korea as part of a nuclear deal between Pyongyang and Washington.

The oil is being provided under an agreement signed in Geneva last October to end the crisis over North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons development."The loading is expected to be completed by early morning (today)," said a spokesman of Yukong Ltd.

The spokesman said the Chinese-registered tanker Wei Shan Hu would leave the Port of Ulsan today and arrive at the North Korean Port of Sonbong on Saturday.

Yukong won a contract from the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to ship 40,000 tons of Bunker-C oil to the North.

The remaining 20,000 tons will be shipped to the North next week.

The KEDO consortium was created in March to implement the Geneva accord under which North Korea's plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon will be replaced by light-water reactors that cannot easily convert fuel to weapons- grade material.

In January, South Korea's Honam Oil Refinery Co. delivered 50,000 tons of heavy oil to the North, the first consignment of oil promised by the United States under the nuclear deal. Under the $4.5 billion deal, Pyongyang will be provided with two light-water reactors and interim supplies of fuel oil in exchange for shutting down its existing nuclear facilities.

A 10-member KEDO team arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to inspect the site for a possible light-water nuclear power station, South Korean officials said.

The team, led by a senior official of the U.S. State Department and including four South Koreans and four Japanese, will spend a week in North Korea, they said.

It will look at a site at Sinpo on North Korea's east coast to investigate the quality of the earth, water level, environment and other factors, they said.