North Korea said on Sunday it would resume taking apart its plutonium-producing Yongbyon nuclear plant and allow in inspectors in response to a U.S. decision a day earlier to remove it from a terrorism blacklist.
South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said the government "may consider the issue of adjusting its position on various projects", and that "food aid or steel aid are within the range of consideration".
South Korea had planned to send North Korea 3,000 tones of steel in around September as required for previous disarmament steps the isolated state made in a pact it reached with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
South Korea has not decided when it will send the steel aid but the shipment would likely be timed to coincide with North Korea returning to operations to take apart Yongbyon, Yonhap news agency quoted multiple sources as saying.
Seoul put off sending the aid after North Korea last month made early moves to rebuild the Soviet-era nuclear complex that makes arms-grade plutonium in anger at not being removed from the U.S. terrorism blacklist.
As a part of the disarmament-for-aid deal, North Korea began receiving 1 million tones of heavy fuel oil, or aid of equal value such as steel, when it froze operations at Yongbyon last year and allowed in nuclear inspectors.
The North was to be removed from the U.S. blacklist once it provided a full accounting of its nuclear programs and allowed for a system to check its claims.
The isolated and destitute North has longed to be delisted so it can better tap into international finance, see the lifting of many trade sanctions and use global settlement banks to send money abroad instead of relying on cash-stuffed suitcases.
The U.S. decision to delist North Korea was made after the North agreed to a series of verification steps on its nuclear plant, a State Department spokesman said on Saturday.
Most of the disablement steps, which were started in November, had been completed and were aimed at taking at least a year to reverse.
But verification is fraught with difficulties. First of all, the North reported to have produced less plutonium than the United States had estimated, which is about 50 kg (110 lb), or conservatively enough for six to eight nuclear bombs.
Secondly, the United States wants to be able to check on its suspicions that the North has a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons -- giving it a second path to make nuclear bombs -- and that it proliferated technology abroad.