A team of U.S. experts has begun disablement work at three major facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, 103 kilometers (about 61 miles) north of Pyongyang. The complex includes a 5-megawatt reactor that can generate weapons-grade plutonium.
''This is not the so-called aid for North Korea, so I guess we will somehow have to consider it,'' Kyodo quoted Masahiko Komura as saying.
At the October 30 round of six-party talks involving South and North Korea, China, the U.S., Russia and Japan, Pyongyang agreed to disable the Yongbyon reactor by the end of the year, in exchange for 450,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil, along with equipment needed to upgrade its thermal power facilities, equivalent to 500,000 metric tons of fuel oil.
Japan earlier refused to contribute aid to North Korea under the six-party framework agreement until the issue of the North Korean abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s has been resolved.
Pyongyang has acknowledged that it kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens, but says it subsequently sent five of them home, and the rest are dead.
The six-party negotiations on North Korea's disarmament have been held since August 2003. Five working groups have been set up this year, including for regional security, dismantling nuclear facilities and stabilizing North Korea's relations with the U.S. and Japan.