News

Source: Voice of America
DATE=1/8/97
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-208395
TITLE=KOREA / NUCLEAR AGREEMENTS SIGNED (L)
BYLINE=MAX RUSTON
DATELINE=NEW YORK

/// EMBARGOED UNTIL 4:30 PM EST, 8 JANUARY 1997. ///

INTRO: NORTH KOREA SIGNED AGREEMENTS IN NEW YORK TODAY (WEDNESDAY) THAT WILL ALLOW AN INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM TO BEGIN WORK ON TWO NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN THEIR COUNTRY. AS WE HEAR FROM V-O-A CORRESPONDENT MAX RUSTON, THE AGREEMENTS ARE DESIGNED TO ASSIST NORTH KOREA WITH ITS ENERGY NEEDS WHILE REDUCING THE THREAT OF ITS REPORTED NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM.

TEXT: THE AGREEMENTS CONSIST OF TWO PROTOCOLS BETWEEN THE NORTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT AND THE KOREAN PENINSULA ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION, KNOWN AS KEDO (KEE-DO). KEDO IS A CONSORTIUM COMPRISED OF SOUTH KOREA, THE UNITED STATES AND JAPAN. IT WAS SET UP TO IMPLEMENT AN AGREEMENT UNDER WHICH NORTH KOREA PROMISED TO DISMANTLE ITS WEAPONS-GRADE NUCLEAR PROGRAM IN RETURN FOR SAFER, LIGHT-WATER REACTORS.

THE PROTOCOLS ARE THE LAST IN A SET OF FIVE THAT WILL ALLOW WORK TO BEGIN ON THE SITE IN NORTH KOREA WHERE THE FIRST NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IS TO BE BUILT. DETAILS FOR THE PROTOCOLS WERE AGREED ON SEVERAL MONTHS AGO BUT PROGRESS WAS HALTED BY THE INCURSION OF A NORTH KOREAN SUBMARINE INTO SOUTH KOREAN WATERS IN SEPTEMBER. NORTH KOREA APOLOGIZED FOR THE INCIDENT LAST MONTH, PAVING THE WAY FOR THE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT PROJECT TO CONTINUE.

KEDO OFFICIALS ARE RELUCTANT TO DISCUSS THE IMPACT OF THE SUBMARINE INCURSION ON THE NUCLEAR PROJECT, BUT HAVE INDICATED THAT OTHER MAJOR POLITICAL PROBLEMS COULD SET IT BACK AGAIN. JASON SHAPLEN IS A POLICY ADVISOR AND SPOKESMAN FOR KEDO.

/// SHAPLEN ACT ///

WE SAID AT THE OUTSET OF THE SUBMARINE INCURSION INTO SOUTH KOREA THAT KEDO DOES NOT OPERATE IN A POLITICAL VACUUM. THAT REMAINS TRUE TODAY. WE CONTINUE NOT TO OPERATE IN A POLITICAL VACUUM. ANYTHING THAT HELPS IMPROVE THE POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE ON THE PENINSULA IS HELPFUL.

/// END ACT ///

THE AGREEMENTS JUST SIGNED ARE SEEN AS PUTTING THE PROJECT BACK ON TRACK. WHILE THEY MARK THE LAST OF THE PROTOCOLS ESSENTIAL FOR THE START OF CONSTRUCTION, SEVERAL MORE PROTOCOLS, COVERING TECHNICAL ISSUES, REMAIN TO BE SIGNED. THOSE SIGNED SO FAR DEAL WITH TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS ISSUES, CONSULAR PROTECTION FOR FOREIGN WORKERS, PREPARATION OF THE CONSTRUCTION SITE, AND REGULATIONS CONCERNING THE HIRING AND PAY OF NORTH KOREAN WORKERS.

WESTERN MILITARY OFFICIALS HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT NORTH KOREA MAY BE TRYING TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS. PYONGYANG'S ISOLATION AND ITS FREQUENT EXPRESSIONS OF HOSTILITY TOWARDS SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN AND OTHER COUNTRIES, ARE SEEN AS MAJOR FACTORS OF INSTABILITY IN THE REGION.

NATIONS INVOLVED IN KEDO HOPE THE CONSTRUCTION OF SAFE AND REGULATED NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN THE NORTH WILL ALLOW A CLOSER MONITORING OF PYONGYANG'S NUCLEAR RESOURCES WITHOUT INCREASING POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC INSTABILITY. (SIGNED)

NEB/NY/MPR/LSF/MMK

08-Jan-97 2:52 PM EST (1952 UTC)

Source: Voice of America