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Consortium To Pull The Plug On New Reactors For North Korea

The reactors were forecast to cost more than five billion dollars, and more than 1.5 billion dollars has already been spent since work (pictured) started in 1998.

New York (AFP) Nov 23, 2005
A US-led international consortium has agreed to completely halt the construction of two nuclear reactors in North Korea, officials said Wednesday.

A meeting of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisationreached consensus Tuesday on definitively stopping the project, in a move the group hoped would prevent the North from producing nuclear weapons, a spokesman said.

Representatives decided to consult with their governments on the financial and legal implications of how to end the project.

"There was a consensus on the termination of the light water reactor project, but that meeting was recessed for the participants, the executive board members, to go back and consult with their capitals before resuming the meeting to discuss and make a final decision before November 30," said KEDO spokesman Brian Kremer.

The two light water reactors were promised, along with replacement fuel supplies, under a 1994 US-brokered deal to end a crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons efforts.

The Stalinist state had been using a heavy water reactor with enriched uranium that can be used to produce a nuclear bomb.

KEDO was set up to finance and run the construction project, with the United States, South Korea, Japan and the European Union as the key members.

Uranium from the light water reactors cannot be used for weapons development.

The reactors were forecast to cost more than five billion dollars, and more than 1.5 billion dollars has already been spent since work started in 1998.

But construction never made any serious progress because of disputes with North Korea and bureaucratic delays.

A new crisis, which erupted in 2002 after the United States accused the North of breaching the 1994 accord by continuing to make nuclear weapons, led to a formal suspension of the reactor project in 2003.

The suspension was extended one year ago.

Since 2002, North Korea has reactivated its Soviet-era reactor at Yongbyon, expelled international inspectors and withdrawn from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Efforts to negotiate an end to the latest standoff in six-nation talks are currently deadlocked.

After more than two years of six-party negotiations, North Korea agreed in principle at the fourth round in September to scrap its nuclear weapons drive in return for economic and diplomatic benefits.

But the United States and other countries say they are now waiting for concrete evidence that the Pyongyang regime will live up to the promise.

The new reactors were being built at Kumho, near the town of Sinpo on North Korea's east coast.

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Two New England high-technology companies and their top executives were sentenced late Friday, November 18, 2005, in federal court for violating United States export law in connection with the export to India of equipment that is used to manufacture a material that improves the accuracy of strategic ballistic missiles with nuclear capabilities.

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