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US Seeking to Provide Sakhalin Natural Gas to North Korea

US Seeking to Provide Sakhalin Natural Gas to North Korea

Posted September. 29, 2003 23:08,   


Curt Weldon, US Republican Congressman who proposed to North Korea the KoRus Project, through which the Sakhalin natural gas pipeline will connect Sakhalin in the Russian Far East with the Korean peninsula, is planning to revisit the North at the end of October together with the delegates of the Congress. Therefore much attention is drawn to the visit`s possible effect on the North Korea nuclear issue.

A participant of the seminar that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the US-ROK alliance, which took place on September 26, said on September 28 that Weldon, vice-chairman of the House Arms Services Committee, stated that he would be ˝visiting the North for four days at the end of October, and will be discussing the 2 step nuclear resolution that includes the plan to `use Russian natural gas to solve electricity shortage in North Korea,` which had been proposed during the visit to the North in May.˝

Some observers are posing questions related to this statement on whether North Korea and the US is discussing natural gas provision as a means to solve the nuclear issue through an unofficial channel. However, the Bush administration had stated that the plan had nothing to do with the US government.

During his visit to the North, Weldon is scheduled to meet with the North Korean head Kim Jong-il, and also to meet with President Roh Moo-hyun in Seoul. For 3 days from May 30, Weldon had visited the North with 5 other congressmen, and proposed a solution for the nuclear issue, promising that the US would sign the Non Aggression Part and that it would provide economic assistance with 3 to 5 billion dollars, if the North renounces its nuclear program and accept nuclear inspections.

On June 2, the day after his return from the North, Weldon met with President Roh at the Blue House, and said that, ˝The North showed greatly positive reactions toward the plan on using Russian natural gas.˝

The KoRus Project aims to construct a pipeline of 2300 km, which runs from Sakhalin gas field, for which ExxonMobil has the development rights, through North Korea, down to South Korea. Approximately 500 million to 4 billion dollars would be injected for four years. It is evaluated to be less profitable than the pipeline construction already being pursued in Irkrutz, Russia by Korea, but ExxonMobil is said to be aggressively lobbying through the Bush administration for the project.