Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Voice of America 3/12/97

KOREA / NUCLEAR

BYLINE=MAX RUSTON
DATELINE=NEW YORK
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: PLANS TO BUILD TWO LIGHT-WATER NUCLEAR REACTORS IN NORTH KOREA APPEAR TO BE BACK ON TRACK, AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS OF DELAY CAUSED BY POLITICAL TENSION BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA. V-O-A'S MAX RUSTON REPORTS FROM NEW YORK THE LEADER OF AN INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM BUILDING THE REACTORS SAID TODAY (WEDNESDAY) HE HOPES CONSTRUCTION WILL BEGIN WITHIN A FEW MONTHS.

TEXT: IF THERE ARE NO SURPRISE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA, WORK ON THE FIRST OF TWO LIGHT WATER REACTORS IN THE NORTH IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN BY LATE SPRING. STEPHEN BOSWORTH IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION -- KEDO (KAY-DOE) -- WHICH IS BUILDING THE REACTORS. HE SAYS CONSTRUCTION PLANS ARE NOW BACK ON TRACK, AFTER A DELAY OF SEVERAL MONTHS, CAUSED BY THE INCURSION OF A NORTH KOREAN SUBMARINE INTO SOUTH KOREAN WATERS LATE LAST YEAR. HE SAYS THE FIRST STAGE OF CONSTRUCTION WOULD INCLUDE THE PROVISION OF BASIC UTILITIES TO THE REACTOR SITE AND THE BUILDING OF STAFF QUARTERS.

CONSTRUCTION OF THE REACTORS IS SEEN AS A CRUCIAL STEP TOWARD REDUCING THE THREAT OF A NUCLEAR CONFLICT ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA. THE REACTORS ARE BEING PROVIDED TO NORTH KOREA BY SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN AND THE UNITED STATES, IN RETURN FOR PYONGYANG'S PLEDGE TO FREEZE ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM. MR. BOSWORTH SAYS AS SUCH IT SHOULD BE VIEWED AS A POLITICAL ARRANGEMENT, AND NOT BE MISTAKEN FOR ASSISTANCE TO NORTH KOREA.

/// BOSWORTH ACT ///

THIS IS NOT ASSISTANCE BEING PROVIDED TO THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA. THIS IS VERY EXPLICITLY PART OF A BARGAIN. IT IS A QUID PRO QUO. IN RETURN FOR RECEIVING HEAVY FUEL OIL AND THESE REACTORS, THE NORTH KOREANS HAVE FROZEN AND WILL EVENTUALLY DISMANTLE THEIR INDIGENOUS NATIONAL NUCLEAR PROGRAM, WHICH, AS WE ALL KNOW, WAS VERY MUCH BELIEVED TO BE AIMED AT THE PRODUCTION AND THE CAPACITY TO PRODUCE NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

/// END ACT ///

AT A NEW CONFERENCE, MR. BOSWORTH MENTIONED TWO POTENTIAL OBSTACLES TO THE PROJECT: FUNDING AND POLITICS. HE SAYS FUNDING FROM THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN SLOW BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEX APPROVAL PROCESS GOVERNING ANY FUNDS DESTINED FOR NORTH KOREA. HE SAYS POLITICS THREATEN TO DELAY OR DISRUPT THE PROJECT AS LONG AS TENSION REMAINS HIGH ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA.

BUT, MR. BOSWORTH SAYS HE IS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE PROJECT, FOLLOWING RECENT SIGNS THAT NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA ARE WILLING TO DISCUSS SOME OF THEIR PROBLEMS.

/// BOSWORTH ACT ///

AS TO HOW A MORE EFFECTIVE DIALOG BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH WOULD HELP OUR WORK, IT BASICALLY WOULD TEND TO REDUCE TO SOME EXTENT THE TENSION IN THE POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE IN WHICH WE ARE WORKING, AND I WOULD HOPE IT WOULD THEREFORE LOWER THE POSSIBILITY OF POLITICAL EVENTS IN THE FUTURE WHICH WOULD BE DISRUPTIVE TO OUR WORK PROGRAM.

/// END ACT ///

THE AGREEMENT TO BUILD THE REACTORS WAS REACHED IN OCTOBER 1994, AMID CONCERNS BY THE UNITED STATES AND SEVERAL ASIAN COUNTRIES THAT NORTH KOREA'S ALLEGED NUCLEAR PROGRAM THREATENED SECURITY IN THE NORTHEAST ASIAN REGION. DIPLOMATS INVOLVED IN TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA SAY THEY HOPE CONSTRUCTION OF THE REACTORS WILL HELP EASE TENSION AND IMPROVE THE ATMOSPHERE FOR PEACE EFFORTS BETWEEN THE NORTH AND SOUTH. THE KOREAN PENINSULA HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST HEAVILY MILITARIZED REGIONS IN THE WORLD SINCE THE KOREAN WAR IN THE EARLY 1950'S. (SIGNED)

NEB/NY/MPR/LSF/KL

12-Mar-97 3:54 PM EST (2054 UTC)
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