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North Korea finally gets its money

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: The crisis over North Korea's nuclear program may cool down a bit thanks to a wire transfer amounting to some $25 million. That's the amount that had been frozen in a Macau bank account. And the North Koreans have been refusing to shut down their nuclear reactors until they got the money back. Daniel Schearf explains.


Daniel Schearf: The U.S. government suspected the $25 million were connected to counterfeiting and drug dealing. Macau authorities froze the North Korean accounts two years ago. In response, North Korea boycotted nuclear discussions for over a year.

To get negotiations restarted earlier this year, the U.S. tried to "unfreeze" the cash, but for months, the money went nowhere. No bank wanted to touch the alleged "dirty money" and North Korea refused to shut down its nuclear reactors.

That is, until Russia stepped in and agreed to handle the transfer. Chief U.S. Negotiator Christopher Hill:

Christopher Hill: Again it took us a long time, longer than any of us expected. I think all of us have learned a lot about banking in the process for what that's worth. But, I think now we've made an important turn and we're back onto the subject at hand, which is denuclearization.

North Korea said Saturday the transfer was now in its "final phase."

In Beijing, I'm Daniel Schearf for Marketplace.

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