DPRK

South Korea proposes 2 million-kW electricity aid to North

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South Korea on Tuesday (July 12) proposed a 2 million kilowatts electricity aid to North Korea on condition that it would completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

The energy aid is one of the key elements of an "important proposal" South Korea formally presented to the North which promised to return to the six-party talks later this month.

If Pyongyang commits itself to nuclear dismantlement, Seoul will provide 2 million kilowatts of electricity to the North annuallky and start construction on power transmission facilities in preparation for the supply, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said.

Chung said the power supply could begin in 2008 at the earliest as it would take at least three years to construct transmission facilities.

"Our direct power supply proposal calls for providing electricity to replace the power generated by the North's nuclear reactors, which is a key factor in resolving the nuclear issue," Chung told a press conference.

In exchange for power provision, the South called for terminating a suspended project to build two light-water reactors in the North.

Under a 1994 deal with the U.S., the North was promised two light-water reactors in return for freezing its nuclear facilities. A U.S.-led consortium had worked toward implementing the $4.6 billion project before suspending it amid a renewed crisis over the North's nuclear weapons ambitions.

The proposal was endorsed at a National Security Council (NSC) meeting presided over by President Roh Moo-hyun before the formal announcement.

Chung briefed North Korean leader Kim Jong-il of "the important proposal" on June 17, the last day of his trip to Pyongyang. He also visited Washington to outline the offer to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

On Saturday, North Korea agreed to rejoin the stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks in the final week of July. The talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been suspended since the last session in June last year.

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