KEDO Starts Construction of Nuclear Plants

The construction of two light water nuclear reactors finally started in earnest as a concrete pouring work started at the planned construction site at Kumho, South Hamgyong Province, on August 7 in accordance with the DPRK-U.S. Geneva Agreed Framework signed in October 1994.

A ceremony to commemorate the first pouring of concrete to the foundations of the plant was held at the construction site with some 750 officials from the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), officials of the DPRK, construction workers and journalists attending. Among the attendees were Chang Sun Sop, chairman of the KEDO executive board, KEDO Executive Director Charles Kartman, U.S. special envoy to the DPRK Jack Pritchard of the United States, Suzuki Katsunari of Japan and the European Commission ambassador J.P. Leng.

Fireworks lit up the sky around the building site and a hopper of wet cement was ceremoniously lowered into the reactors’ foundations.

“I am glad to see the ceremony, but it should have been done earlier,” Kim Hui Mun, the DPRK’s general director for the project, was quoted as saying to reporters at the ceremony. “We ought to be compensated for the delay. We are firm on that with no doubt,” he added.

“This project is for preserving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Charles Kartman said, adding that the project was not simply of building nuclear reactors.

U.S. envoy Jack Pritchard made a speech at the ceremony to mark the start of construction of two light-water nuclear reactors for the DPRK.

Delegates watched the first pouring of concrete to the foundations of the main power plant buildings. KEDO officials described the planned event as an important milestone in the construction of the light-water reactor project.

Under the 1994 agreement, a U.S.-led multinational consortium known as KEDO promised to provide two nuclear plants to the DPRK in return for the suspension of the DPRK of its own nuclear project. KEDO is a consortium set up to implement a $4.6 billion reactor project under the Agreed Framework. KEDO consists of the U.S., Japan, South Korea, EU and other countries.

But the construction is already well behind its original target completion date of 2003.

Pritchard was the highest official to visit the DPRK after the Bush administration inaugurated in 2001.No meeting was arranged between officials of the DPRK and the U.S.

Meanwhile, the DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a statement issued on August 13, said that before talks on inspections can begin, the US must pay for electric power lost by delays in building the reactor.

The statement said that the issue of great concern for the DPRK and the U.S. at the present time is not the issue of nuclear inspection but the matter of how to abide by the Agreed Framework.

“By delaying the construction of the LWRs the U.S. has caused a huge loss of electricity to the DPRK and created grave difficulties in its economy as a whole,” the statement said. “This has seriously threatened its right to existence,” it added.

“The reality is pushing us to a situation where we should make a final decision to go our own way,” the ministry spokesman said.

The statement urged the U.S. to compensate for the loss of electricity caused by the delayed provision of the light water reactors, saying that this is the issue the U.S. should discuss with the DPRK before anything else.



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