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Officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. made the decision, which in effect provides North Korea — labeled a state-sponsor of terrorism — full access to the international financial system.

Miss Rice’s purpose, they said, was to remove what Pyongyang says is the only remaining obstacle to shutting down Yongbyon. Mr. Paulson is said to have agreed with Miss Rice because he does not want to risk his good relations with Chinese officials.

Mr. Hill told the Korea Society in New York this week that Washington would not let the $25 million stand in the way of the nuclear deal.