China is to provide energy-starved North Korea with 50,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil in mid-August as part of a nuclear disarmament deal Pyongyang reached with regional powers in February, Yonhap news agency said on Sunday.
Last month North Korea shut its reactor, the source of its bomb-grade plutonium, and allowed U.N. nuclear inspectors into the secretive nuclear complex in return for 50,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil provided by South Korea.
China's planned fuel oil consignment is part of the second stage of the disarmament deal reached between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, Yonhap cited diplomatic sources as saying.
In this stage, Pyongyang is to receive 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil in exchange for permanently disabling its nuclear facilities and providing a complete inventory of its atomic arms program,
The Chinese government had decided to ship the oil to help the mood for the nuclear discussions even though North Korea has yet to begin the disablement process or provide the inventory, the sources told Yonhap.
China's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the report.
The two Koreas are scheduled to hold energy-aid talks this week.
At a meeting of Southeast Asian nations last week, North Korea demanded that Washington remove it from a list of states that sponsor terrorism before further progress could be made on dismantling its nuclear arms program.
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing)