Clear up suspicionsThe files hurriedly deleted by Energy Ministry officials ahead of a probe by the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) into possible wrongdoings related to the early shutdown of the Wolseong-1 reactor turned out to be more controversial than expected. They included a study on a nuclear reactor project in North Korea and surveillance on civic groups opposing the Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear phase-out policy.
The main opposition hammered the government on its secret reactor project in North Korea. People Power Party’s interim leader Kim Chong-in called the reactor construction plan for North Korea an “act amounting to treason.” The Blue House jumped at the accusation and threatened to take legal action against the remark. The ruling Democratic Party argued that such an idea had also been studied by governments under conservative presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye.
The Energy Ministry held a briefing to clarify the controversy. It claimed the study was internally reviewed by the ministry following the inter-Korean summit on April 27, 2018 for energy cooperation. The ministry denied that Seoul had offered to build a commercial reactor in North Korea. The press statement came out one hour later than it was supposed to be released, and the briefing was short and lacking.
Even if the ministry is telling the truth, it does not make sense for the government to propose to build a nuclear reactor in North Korea when it is trying to make the country nuclear reactor free. The idea is bizarre since the United States and United Nations would never endorse any supply of nuclear energy to North Korea, which has declared to have the capacity to make nuclear weapons and threatens to use them for self-defense.
If the idea was explored “internally,” why did senior government officials sneak into their offices in the middle of night on Sunday to delete the files. Although the actions are blatantly suspicious, the ministry claimed it did not intervene in any way.
The Blue House and government are trying to politicize the controversy to defend their actions. The reasons for their overly sensitive reaction to the BAI and prosecution chiefs for conducting investigations into the Wolseong reactor case can now be understood. If they had surrendered to the government’s pressure and stopped their probes, the files would never have been exposed. If the Blue House and Energy Ministry cannot answer the allegations, the prosecution must get to the bottom of the case.