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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

South Korea angrily rejects it planned to build nuclear facility

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 30 January 2021 9:53 AM

South Korea planned to "secretly" build a nuclear power plant across the border in North Korea, a report says, drawing an angry rebuttal from Seoul.

Local broadcaster SBS claims it has obtained a prosecution indictment that listed more than a dozen documents from the energy ministry suggesting that Seoul had planned the secret project in 2018.

Among the documents, the report said, there were at least six files dated back to May 2018 — a month after President Moon Jae-in held his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Some of the files, according to the report, were titled, "A plan to build a nuclear plant in North Korea" and "Tasks for phased cooperation to establish electricity infrastructure in North Korea."

In a reaction to the report, leader of the main opposition People Power Party, Kim Chong-in, accused Moon's government of trying "to close the South Korean nuclear power plant and build a nuclear power plant in North Korea in extreme secrecy."

He described the alleged plan as a "shocking and appalling act that abets the enemy."

Seoul dismisses claims as 'absurd'

Moon's spokesman Kang Min-seok accused Kim of making "irresponsible" remarks to stoke ideological strife and "deceive people" ahead of a key by-election in April.

He said that Kim's remarks "are absurd claims, and even if the election is ahead, it is hardly believed that the words from the opposition representatives are believable."

Last month, prosecutors indicted three energy ministry officials on charges of violating the Criminal Act by damaging public records following a state auditor investigation.

Moon's government decided in 2018 to decommission a South Korean reactor, the Wolsong No.1, earlier than scheduled, citing feasibility studies in line with the president's pledge to phase out nuclear power.

Moon, who said he was "willing to meet repeatedly and talk ceaselessly" with the North's leader if necessary, visited Pyongyang in September 2018.

Back then, he signed an agreement with the North's leader to take a step closer to peace by turning the Korean Peninsula into a "land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats."

The president has so far held three summits with Kim.

The two Koreas were on a path of rapprochement beginning in January 2018 before US intransigence to relieve any of the sanctions on the North effectively killed diplomacy.

Earlier last year, Moon said he was making efforts to arrange a visit by Kim to Seoul, saying that both sides are in "desperate need" to improve relations.

Moon, who has also been trying to mediate between the North and the United States, urged former President Donald Trump and Kim to meet once again before the US presidential election last year.

During his four-year presidency, Trump met with Kim three times, but he refused to relieve any of the sanctions on Pyongyang. That hampered further diplomacy.

He has been refusing to offer any sanctions relief to the North even as Pyongyang has taken several unilateral steps as signs of goodwill since 2017, including demolishing a major nuclear test site.

In return, Kim ended a moratorium on the country's missile tests and said North Korea would soon develop a "new strategic weapon."

Trump has also been blamed for the erosion in inter-Korean relations.

The North and South Korea are still technically at war as the Korean War ended with a truce in 1953, and not a peace treaty.

Ever since, the two countries were on a near-constant war footing.

US military actions in the region, including joint annual war games between Washington and Seoul, have also long been a trigger point for heightened military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The drills have been suspended since 2018, but Washington has renewed the call for the full resumption of the exercises.

New US President Joe Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously said suspending the drills was a mistake.

Blinken has also called for "genuine economic pressure to squeeze North Korea to get it to the negotiating table."

Analysts, however, warned that if the Biden administration moves forward with the joint exercises in March, it will likely sabotage any prospect of diplomacy with North Korea in the near future.

Biden, they said, will rather heighten geopolitical tensions, and risk reigniting a war on the Korean Peninsula.

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