Seoul denies offering to build nuclear plant in North Korea
Seoul, Feb 3 (efe-epa).- South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young said Wednesday that Pyongyang was never asked to build a nuclear plant on its territory as a disarmament incentive after Seoul recently published a 2018 draft of this hypothetical plan.
“The Unification Ministry is in charge of inter-Korean relations and we have never discussed the construction of a plant in [North Korea],” Lee said at a press conference held at the Seoul Correspondents Club.
The southern Energy Ministry published Monday a six-page draft from 2018 with a hypothetical plan to build a reactor to supply power to the neighboring country, considering North Korea’s South Hamgyong province as the first choice for its location.
Shortly before, South Korean television reported for the first time the existence of this document, found during an audit to which the ministry was subjected, leading the country’s conservative opposition to accuse the government of wanting to supply nuclear material “to the enemy.”
“These are baseless arguments from the conservative press,” Lee said.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said the day before that the document was drafted as part of a brainstorm after the first summit held by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and counterpart President Moon Jae-in in April 2018, which was then discarded.
The Unification Minister “no reference will be found to this issue of the nuclear plant with regard to the new economic initiatives that we present to North Korea.”
Prior to the stalemate of the denuclearization dialogue between the two countries in early 2019, Seoul presented Pyongyang with several economic cooperation initiatives in the denuclearization talks and diplomatic exchanges that took place in 2018.
Lee also said Wednesday that after the recent North Korean congress, the regime “has expressed that there is room for dialogue” and the main task of his ministry is “to bring North Korea to the negotiating table” while Seoul and Washington coordinate their respective policies.
The minister said Seoul will soon adopt a position on the joint South Korea-United States military exercises – scheduled for March and normally considered by Pyongyang with a trial to invade its territory – without adding whether their cancellation is possible.
Lee said his portfolio will also seek to boost cooperation projects with North Korea, including aspects such as the pandemic, although he added that currently “there is no specific plan to provide vaccines to North Korea.” EFE-EPA