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North Korean Light Water Reactor Project To Be Halted

Posted November. 12, 2003 22:44,   


On November 12, the chief of the KEDO department in the Unification ministry, Jang Jin-seop, announced that on November 21, the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO) will hold a conference of executive countries in order to temporarily halt the construction of a light water reactor in North Korea for a year. According to this decision, all non-maintenance construction work on the reactor will be brought to an end by early December.

Charles Cartman, the secretary general of KEDO, is scheduled to visit the North Korean capital city Pyongyang on November 15 to discuss matters such as the future course of KEDO projects and the evacuation problem raised by the suspension of the light water reactor project with his North Korean counterparts. “If problems relating to the North Korean nuclear weapons program could be sorted out, the construction could carry on,” remarked Jang. However, the New York Times recently reported that “the U.S. State Department has declared its intention to ensure the demise of the light water reactor project in North Korea.” It is expected that controversy surrounding the resumption of the project will be stirred up by the end of next year.

On the other hand, the planning team for the North Korean light water reactor remarked that “there will be no damage to Korean companies,” suggesting that the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and the outsourced companies under contract with KEPCO are poised to respond to the change in plans. Their contract already contains a provision that allows for construction to be halted for as long as 18 months to avoid penalties resulting from a delay. The light water reactor project plans to build two 1000MW reactors on a 2.7 million square meter site in the Keumho area of North Korea. $1.3 billion has already been invested, $1 billion of which was provided by the Korean government.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com