Russians Stall Nuclear Deal With N. Korea

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Russian central bank has not transferred about $23 million in previously frozen North Korean funds to a Russian commercial bank, yet another delay holding up a nuclear deal with Pyongyang.

Officials in the United States and Macau had indicated Thursday that the money had been transferred from a bank in Macau via the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to a Russian commercial bank near the border with North Korea. Pyongyang has refused to shut down a nuclear reactor until it receives the money, which had been frozen because of a Treasury Department investigation into North Korean money laundering.

But the money was held at the Russian central bank as Russian officials sought revised assurances that Treasury would not take regulatory action against the Russian bank, sources said last night. Treasury officials thought those assurances had been provided, but Russia wanted those assurances in a different form. The transfer is now expected to take place Monday. Until the transfer is made to the Russian commercial bank, where North Korea holds an account, Pyongyang will not have possession of the funds.

Under a nuclear deal in February between North Korea and five other countries, North Korea was to have shut down the reactor April 14.

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