North plans new nuclear power plant, says defector

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North plans new nuclear power plant, says defector

North Korea will build a nuclear power plant in the northeastern Rason Special Economic Zone, a defector-turned-researcher told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

“North Korea has agreed to construct a nuclear power plant generating 400,000 kilowatts, led by China,” An Chan-il, a defector from the North and head of the World Institute for North Korea Studies, said, citing sources familiar with North Korean affairs.

“That amount of power will resolve all electricity shortages in the east coast border area,” An said.

North Korea has no nuclear power plants. The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization suspended its construction of two light-water reactors in Sinpo, a port city in South Hamgyong Province in 2006.

In June 2011, Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission Jang Song-thaek, uncle and political guardian of new leader Kim Jong-un, met with Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and agreed on a contract for a coal-fired power plant to be constructed by China.

The contract also said a state-run Chinese power company in Hunchun would provide electricity to the Rason zone.

Sources familiar with North Korean affairs said the blueprint for the plant was completed last year and construction of the coal-fired plant was supposed to start on April 15, celebrating founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday.

An said that North Korea needs a massive amount of electricity for the Rason Special Economic Zone and that was why the plan was changed to build a nuclear power plant.

A South Korean government official said, “In the situation that North Korea isn’t on board with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is also under sanctions by the United Nation Security Council, it’s an impossible scenario to build a nuclear plant.”

Meanwhile, Yang Hyong-sop, a senior North Korean party official, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Kim Jong-un is “focusing on establishing a knowledge-based economy and is looking at examples of economic reforms instituted by other countries.”

He also dismissed speculation that the post-Kim Jong-il regime would be unstable, saying he “isn’t worried about it a bit.”

He said Kim Jong-un was well-prepared through years of political training by his father.


By Lee Won-jean [heejin@joognang.co.kr]
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