US refrains from criticizing NKorea nuke deadline

The Bush administration said North Korea must follow through on its promise to shut down and seal its nuclear reactor, but held back from criticizing Pyongyang for missing a Saturday deadline to do so. Pyongyang had committed to take the step by Saturday as part of an agreement reached in February between it and five other nations - the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia - to end its nuclear weapons program. But Washington also failed to resolve within 30 days of the agreement, as promised, a dispute with North Korea over funds frozen through US sanctions. Technical difficulties meant the $25 million in North Korean assets held at a bank in the semiautonomous Chinese territory of Macau were just freed this past week.