One U.S. and 56 South Korean workers returned to South Korea from the North yesterday, marking the end of the light water reactor construction project in Sinpo, South Hamgyeong Province.
Pyongyang has refused to return the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organizations (KEDO) 45.5 billion won worth of equipment, including heavy machinery and vehicles, at the site, however, and is demanding compensation for the termination of the project.
With the withdrawal, the 11-year-old project ended in failure. Under a 1994 agreement between the U.S. and North Korea, KEDOs executive board members, including Korea, the U.S., Japan, and the EU agreed to provide two new pressurized light-water reactors in exchange for the freezing and ultimate dismantlement of North Koreas nuclear facilities.
The KEDO executive board contributed 1.562 billion dollars in construction and facility management costs to date, and Korea funded the greatest share of 72.8 percent, or 1.13 7 billion dollars. With the termination of the project, KEDO is facing an additional cost of $200 million to $500 million to clear the Sinpo project for the financial and legal problems to be solved
The 57 workers boarded a Hankyoreh vessel in the morning and arrived at South Korea`s eastern port of Sokcho yesterday afternoon.
However, North Korea refused to return KEDOs equipment, demanding compensation for the termination of the project. We will continue to discuss the issue with the North, announced the South Korean government and KEDO.
KEDO suspended the project in December 2003 when North Korea declared its withdrawal from NPT and pursued development of highly enriched uranium. KEDO made the decision to close the project during its executive board meeting last November
A total of 34.5 percent of the design, and construction of the project, and 21.6 percent of its facilities process had been completed at the time of the pullout.