S. Korea prepares aid to North ahead of shutdown

South Korea has begun preparations for the first shipment of promised energy aid to North Korea, a top official said Thursday, amid growing optimism that Pyongyang will finally shut down its main nuclear reactor. South Korea "is currently working on details related to the provision of heavy fuel oil," promised to North Korea under a February disarmament pact in exchange for shuttering its Yongbyon reactor, Vice Unification Minister Shin Eon-sang told reporters at a regular briefing. Under the agreement, Pyongyang is to receive 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil provided by Seoul. The communist country is to eventually get additional energy or other aid equivalent to 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil in return for irreversibly disabling the reactor and declaring all nuclear programs.