Wednesday, February 02, 2000
KEDO ready to begin construction on nuclear reactors
By YOSUKE NAITO
of two light-water reactors in North Korea is set to begin by mid-February,
Desaix Anderson, executive director of the Korean Peninsula Energy
Development Organization, said in an interview.
On Monday in Tokyo,
Japan signed a loan agreement with KEDO to provide up to 116.5 billion yen
to finance construction of the reactors, completing the funding of the
project under a 1994 U.S.-North Korean accord on Pyongyang's abandonment of
its nuclear development program.
Anderson arrived in Japan on Sunday
to sign the agreement, which, together with other arrangements made in
December between KEDO and South Korea has enabled primary construction of
the reactors to begin in Kumho, northeastern North Korea.
been some doubts in Pyongyang whether we are serious (about the reactor
project)," Anderson said Tuesday. "But now with the money available, we are
moving ahead full-scale. That will make a lot of difference in terms of
North Korea's attitude (toward us)."
Although land development had
already begun at the reactor site, full-fledged construction of the reactors
had long been stalled.
"For two years, we have been preparing the
landscape in Kumho," Anderson said. "Within a couple of weeks, we will be
able to expand what we are doing."
Construction of the reactors is
financed mainly by South Korea and Japan. Of the estimated $4.6 billion in
costs, Seoul pledged to provide $3.22 billion, or 70 percent of the cost,
while Tokyo committed 116.5 billion yen, about $1.1
Regarding the timetable for the entire project, however,
Anderson said it is still premature to determine a specific schedule,
emphasizing instead the importance of engaging Pyongyang in the KEDO process
and offering the country a way out of international isolation.
the initial plan, the reactor project was expected to be finished in 2003,
but it came to a standstill in August 1998 when North Korea test-fired a
missile over Japan, prompting Tokyo to freeze its financial cooperation to
KEDO. Tokyo lifted the ban two months later.
confidence that progress with the reactor project will have a positive
impact on talks North Korea has been having with the U.S. and
In light of the plan's advancement and continuing talks, he
said, "we are moving forward, entering a new stage -- a very promising one."
KEDO is an international energy consortium created in 1995 as agreed
in a U.S.-North Korean accord the previous year to provide two light-water
reactors with a capacity of 1,000 mw each to North Korea in exchange for
Pyongyang's abandonment of its nuclear development program.
reactors start operations in the North, Washington is to provide Pyongyang
with 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil annually via KEDO to meet
Pyongyang's energy demands.
Regarding the oil issue, Anderson is
optimistic that this year's target amount, which he said is estimated to
cost roughly $90 million, will be met as planned.
"Last year, we
shipped all 500,000 tons. There was no fixed schedule in the agreement with
North Korea," he said. "We made last Monday (Jan. 24) the first shipment of
the year 2000. We are doing very well."
Copyright (C) 2000, The Japan Times
All rights reserved
HOME | NEWS |
EDIT | WEEKLY NEWS
ROUNDUP | LISTINGS