The United States, South Korea and Japan agreed Friday to set up a consortium to raise up to $4 billion to replace North Korea's nuclear reac-tors with new models that cannot produce fuel for atomic weapons.

Officials of the three countries decided after a two-day meeting in San Francisco to establish "at an early date" a multilateral consortium provisionally named the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO), a joint statement said.The consortium is a key part of an agreement reached in Geneva Oct. 21 between the United States and North Korea to halt Pyongyang's nuclear program, which Washington says may already have produced enough plutonium for one to two weapons.

Under the accord, the communist state's gas graphite reactors - one in operation and two under construction - will be replaced with light water models from which the United States says it will not be possible to divert fuel.

The joint statement, issued by the U.S. State Department in Washington, said KEDO would have its headquarters in New York and would hold its first meeting in February.

The San Francisco meeting was attended by U.S. ambassador at large Robert Gallucci, who negotiated the Geneva agreement, Japanese envoy for relations with North Korea Tetsuya Endo and South Korean assistant minister for political affairs Choi Dong Jin.

The joint statement said South Korea would play a central role in the financing and construction in North Korea of two 1,000-megawatt light water reactors of a type already used in South Korea.

Japan would play "an appropriate role" in managing and funding the project, it added.

The United States is seeing to the supply of heavy oil to North Korea to compensate it for energy lost from its existing reactor. Gallucci said earlier this week the first shipment would arrive within the next month.

Washington will also look after the safe storage of some 55 to 66 pounds of spent fuel - enough for four or five weapons - that the North Koreans are keeping in a storage pond. This is ultimately to be shipped out of the country.

The joint statement said the three governments agreed on the need for broad international participation in KEDO. Gallucci has said he is trying to interest other members of the Group of Seven top industrial democracies in the project.