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Koreas-Nuclear 1stLd-Writethru 04-17

South Koreans use binoculars to look at North Korea from Imjingak, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, South Korea, today.

Nuclear shutdown at hand?

Intelligence officials reported increased activity today around North Korea’s main nuclear reactor, indicating the country may be preparing to uphold its agreement to shut down the plant.

North Korea missed last Saturday’s deadline for shuttering the reactor because of a dispute over North Korean deposits frozen in a bank blacklisted by Washington.

The country promised the U.S. and four other nations in February to dismantle its nuclear programs in return for energy aid and political concessions.

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North Korea successfully tested a nuclear bomb in October and is believed to have produced as many as a dozen atomic bombs since it kicked out U.N. nuclear inspectors and quit the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty late in 2002.

South Korea’s main spy agency was "following and analyzing some peculiar movements" around the reactor, an official at the National Intelligence Service told the Associated Press.

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