Seoul official rebuffs North Korea nuclear plant allegations

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Feb. 2 (UPI) — South Korea denied it handed over a proposal for a nuclear power plant to Kim Jong Un, after local reports suggested the plan was included on a flash drive shared with Pyongyang in 2018.

South Korean Foreign Minister nominee Chung Eui-yong said Tuesday the flash drive, exchanged during the Panmunjom summit of 2018, had no nuclear power plant proposals, but he declined to disclose any of the content, local television network JTBC reported.

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Chung said the flash drive material was also shared with former White House national security adviser John Bolton, according to the report.

The memory drive “contained a draft proposal from [Seoul] for a new economic initiative on the Korean Peninsula,” Chung said, according to Newsis.

The South Korean proposals “focused on the concept of inter-Korean economic cooperation, centering on the three economic belts in the border regions of the East and West Seas,” the senior official said.

One plan was centered on the energy and power sector, Chung said, according to the report.

Chung’s meeting with local reporters came a day after Seoul’s trade and energy ministry released a document titled, “Plan to push forward a nuclear plant’s construction in North Korea.” The ministry declined to disclose its origins, however, according to JoongAng Daily.

The ministry did confirm the document was created after South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with the North Korean leader for the first time on April 27, 2018. It included a proposal to build a nuclear power plant in South Hamgyong Province at a location where the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization worked on a light water reactor for about a decade before it was terminated in 2006, according to the report.

A former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency said inter-Korean discussions are not enough to legally establish a nuclear power plant in the North, which is under sanctions for nuclear weapons development.

Olli Heinonen told Voice of America’s Korean service Pyongyang must rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty before any nuclear project moves forward.

North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003.