Author`s name AP ©

U.S. nuclear envoy doubtful North Korea will meet nuclear deadline

The top U.S. nuclear envoy said Monday that a mid-April deadline for North Korea to shut down its nuclear reactor is becoming difficult to meet because of an ongoing dispute over frozen North Korean funds.

"Clearly, we're aiming for the complete implementation of the February agreement by day 60... but that timeline is becoming difficult," Christopher Hill told reporters in Tokyo, referring to a Feb. 13 agreement in which Pyongyang agreed to shut down its main nuclear reactor and accept inspectors by April 14 in return for economic aid and political concessions.

He cited a standoff over US$25 million in North Korean assets being held in a Macau bank. Washington now supports the release of all the funds but is working on the technical implementation.

North Korea has refused to move forward with the agreement until the funds are released.