South Korea says North Korea restoring nuclear facilities; US downplays development

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) âÄî South Korea said Wednesday that North Korea had begun restoring its nuclear facilities. But the U.S. played it down, saying the country apparently only moved some equipment out of storage. The North said last week it had stopped dismantling its nuclear reactor on Aug. 14 because Washington had not held up its end of their disarmament deal âÄî a promise to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. At the same time, the North threatened to restore the nuclear facility. The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said in a new report that North Korea had already removed “essential” equipment from its nuclear facilities by the time it decided to stop disabling them last month, suggesting it would take some time to restore its main reactor to an operational state. South Korean and U.S. officials have said that it would take at least a year for the North to restart the facilities after they are completely disabled. The South Koreans did not give any specifics about what exactly the Koreans were doing to restore the Yongbyon plutonium-producing facility or when they started the work.