Bush Seeks $3.5 Million for Group Building N. Korean Reactors

Bloomberg 01/17/03: Todd Zeranski

Original Link: http://quote.bloomberg.com/fgcgi.cgi?ptitle=Top%20World%20News&s1=

Washington, Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush is seeking $3.5 million for the international consortium that continues to build two nuclear reactors for North Korea, even as the U.S. confronts the communist regime over nuclear arms.

The funding, which must be approved by Congress, would go toward the New York-based Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization's administrative funding, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. The money wouldn't fund reactor construction, he said.

``We're not prejudging the decisions on the organization's future,'' Boucher told reporters. ``Proposals for funds are intended to maintain the flexibility we need to achieve our global nonproliferation goals.''

The sum is the U.S. share of KEDO's $17 million operating budget, including its 40 workers in New York and eight in North Korea, KEDO spokesman Brian Kremer said. As many as 1,500 construction workers remain in Kumho, in northeastern North Korea, pouring the concrete foundations for the reactors, which won't be completed for several years, he said.

The 1994 Agreed Framework created the organization, committing the U.S., Japan and South Korea to build the reactors and deliver enough fuel oil for North Korea's energy needs until the facilities were ready. South Korea is paying for most of the reactor project.

In exchange, North Korea would scrap reactors tied to a nuclear arms effort and allow international inspectors to verify compliance. Two new 1,000-megawatt, light-water reactors, valued at $4.6 billion, would provide enough power to light 2 million U.S. homes, or about 20 percent of North Korea's energy.

The pledge shows the U.S. is still pursuing its commitments to North Korea even as the two countries are squaring off over U.S. allegations North Korea essentially annulled the agreement by covertly enriching uranium for weapons use.

Inspectors Sent Home

North Korea sent home two International Atomic Energy Agency officials who were monitoring the country's compliance with the agreement and withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

This week North Korea reacted angrily to U.S. offers to resume dialogue if the regime abandons its nuclear weapons program, alleging the Bush administration is threatening war.

The principal KEDO members, now the U.S., South Korea, Japan and the European Union, decided to end shipments of fuel oil soon after U.S. envoy James Kelly's October meeting with North Korean officials at which the Bush administration said it learned of the regime's deception.
Bloomberg News

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