With the decommissioning of Fukushima No. 1 proving harder than expected, planners have pushed back plans to remove spent nuclear fuel from the cooling pools perched above the damaged reactors by a few years.

The decision was made Friday by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the tsunami-hit complex.

The spent fuel rod assemblies must be removed from the pools above reactor Nos. 1, 2 and 3 before any attempt can be made to extract the fuel that melted inside the reactors themselves.