Nuclear deadline looms for North Korea

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North Korea is facing increasing pressure from the US as it reaches the deadline to close a nuclear site.

The US is continuing to urge the reclusive communist nation to shut down its Yongbyon plant as part of the deal reached in February in multi-lateral talks with neighbouring South Korea as well as Japan, China and Russia.

However the 60-day deadline expires today with North Korea reluctant to play its part in the deal due to millions of dollars remaining frozen in a Macau bank account.

The US insisted last month that plans were in place to recover the funds amid fears that the delay may affect the February 13th deal which hopes to see North Korea shut down its nuclear facilities and allow UN inspectors to investigate the sites. It is now up to Pyongyang to make the next move, the US says.

"It's certainly worrisome to all of us to see them approaching this date rather lethargically," US assistant secretary of state Christopher Hill told reporters in Beijing.

A diplomatic push from other nations has not been mirrored by Pyongyang as Kim Kye-gwan, the country's chief negotiator, failed to attend emergency talks in the Chinese capital.

Mr Hill reiterated the disappointment felt by those involved in the February deal: "We'd like to see a similar level of effort from the [North Koreans] - a level of effort that, frankly, we haven't been seeing."

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