KEDO Breaks Ground on US-Led Nuclear Project
That Will Undermine Client State Status of S. Korea


By Kim Myong Chol
Editorial Adviser

In a remote East Coast site of the DPRK ground was broken on August 19 on a landmark US-led nuclear-energy project that will eventually dismantle the client state in Seoul, the least noticed but most long-term net outcome.

President Clinton described the ceremony in Kumho as a major new milestone that would significantly contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

With some 300 people present including officials from some ten countries, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization better known as KEDO performed a ceremony to mark the start of the construction of two lightwater nuclear reactors that the United States pledges to complete and deliver to the DPRK by 2003 under the landmark October 21, 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework.

Under the deal the United States pledged to upgrade bilateral relations with the DPRK to full ambassadorial relations on completion of the nuclear energy project.

In a speech at the ground-breaking ceremony, DPRK representative Ho Jong completely ignored the south Korean presence.

Ho described the nuclear issue as a product of the Cold War that stems from the historical distrust and abnormal relations and pledged his country to continue to honor the nuclear deal to forge better and future-oriented relations with the United States through reconciliation and cooperation.

The south Korean presence in the KEDO project is visible but silent, simply because the construction project is outsourced to south Korea as subcontractor by the US-led KEDO.

The most important fallout of the project is that it will virtually nullify the notorious National Security Law which has long justified the anti-reunification, anti-democratic regime in Seoul.

Firstly, improved relations and eventual diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Washington will topple the client regime in south Korea and pave the way for a democratic coalition government.

The south Korean regime, a second-class ally of the United States, will lose its raison detre, which is opposition to reunification, rape of democracy and human rights violations.

The American military presence in south Korean will undergo a fundamental change in nature from aggressor to something neutral or peaceful.

Secondly, the National Security Law will become more of a liaility in the eyes of south Koreans.

Symbolically, two letters posted on August 4 by south Korean officials stationed in Kumho reached Seoul on August 18 by way of Pyongyang and Beijing in a clear breach of the National Security Law.

Up to 5,000 south Korean engineers and workers will mail letters in the north Korean site, addressed to their colleagues and families in south Korea. They will make phone calls to Seoul and will buy north Korean items, which will eventually be delivered to south Korea.

Almost every day a south Korean cargo ship will shuttle between north Korea and south Korea.

In short, the National Security Law will be rendered practically null and void.

Sooner or later the south Korean spy organization called the Agengy for National Security Planning will increasingly suspicious of those engineers and workers who have returned from north Korea as brainwashed by north Korea and will try to shadow them.

These developments will trigger the popular demand for abolition of the National Security Law.

The trouble with the KEDO project is that it took two years and ten months to hold the ground-breaking ceremony, leaving the Americans with seven years and two months to complete the project by 2003.

However, it is now quite obvious that it is mission impossible for the Americans to meet the deadline under the 1994 agreement. They will find themselves in an awkward position, charged of delinquency by the north Koreans.

The only option the United States will have to coax the DPRK is to offer to sign a peace treaty and establish diplomatic relations well before the target date, probably while Clinton is still in office. His second term will end in 2001.

In the meantime, the United States will have to race against time to complete the project and will likely find the need for overland transportation of heavy-duty machinery across the DMZ.

With the Americans working hard round the clock, the DPRK officials will have only to closely watch.

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Notes:

The construction site in Kumho covers approximately 8,900,000 square meters, while the local KEDO office is staffed by two Americans, one Japanese, and two south Korean officials.

Already about 9,000 tons of materials have been brought into the site together with heavy-duty earth movers and dump trucks.

About 10,000 north Korean workers will engage in the construction, each paid about 120 dollars a month.


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