UN to resume nuclear monitoring soon: NKorea envoy

North Korea's chief nuclear envoy says UN atomic inspectors will return soon to his country as part of a food aid deal with the United States, according to a news report Tuesday.

"It (the return) will come at an early date," Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho told journalists in New York, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

"Concrete measures are being constantly taken to fulfill the February agreement," Ri said in comments made Monday US time.

He was wrapping up a rare visit to the United States to attend an academic forum.

The North last month agreed to suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor a moratorium on uranium enrichment.

The enrichment programme, first disclosed in November 2010, could give the communist state a second way to make atomic weapons in addition to its longstanding plutonium programme.

North Korea, which has conducted two nuclear tests, kicked out IAEA inspectors in 2009 and is suspected of supplying equipment, materials and know-how in the past to Syria and Libya.

In return, the United States promised to ship 240,000 tonnes of food. US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday there are plans to start the shipments "as soon as possible".

The surprise February 29 deal raised hopes of eased tensions under the North's new ruler Kim Jong-Un, who succeeded his late father Kim Jong-Il.

Ri said Pyongyang was willing to move along if Washington wants to improve ties, stressing an end to "hostile" relations between the two countries would lead to resolving all pending issues.

But he painted a gloomy picture for inter-Korean relations, accusing South Korea of backtracking on summit agreements reached in 2000 and 2007.

"We are willing to go hand in hand should the South respect the declarations and implement them. But the South does not seem to be willing to do so yet," he was quoted as saying.

The North has taken a consistently hostile tone with the South during the leadership transition period, reviling its President Lee Myung-Bak as a "rat" and a "traitor" and vowing to "wipe out" his administration.

  • 2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd 9 hours ago
    2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd

    Nissan says its 2015 Murano crossover, only the second major revamp of the car since it debuted in 2003, draws its design cues from the “age of future space flight.” That’s probably taking it a little far, but the new Murano, based off the 2013 Resonance concept vehicle, is an exceptionally lovely machine, all fluid, curved metal on the outside, and flowing, soft-touch materials on the inside. Certain kinds of comfort and charms that were unheard-of outside of premium vehicles five years ago have definitely trickled down, and reached a kind of design apotheosis with this car.

  • Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen 12 hours ago
    Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen

    With its new President and CEO of America, Michael Horn, on stage in New York after just 100 days on the job, Volkswagen debuted its 2015 Jetta. You'd be forgiven for noticing little differences compared to the outgoing model, and in the words of Horn himself, the changes are indeed subtle. The most notable of those subtleties is the all-new 2.0 liter turbo diesel motor, offering 45 mpg highway and a modest increase of 10 hp. For VW, diesel is where it's at.

  • With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000 12 hours ago
    With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000

    Aston Martin is going downmarket, sort of. The 2015 Vantage GT, a sport-styled variant of Aston’s legendary flagship car, draws style and performance tips from their GT4 race cars, which will be running in North America this year. It’s also priced at $99,900, which shows that the market for these kinds of consumer sports cars has boomed in recent years.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends
    StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends

    Are you on the 4G or LTE mobile data network under StarHub? If so, you’ll have to start paying for the service.

  • Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes
    Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

    By Narae Kim JINDO South Korea (Reuters) - More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.