North Korea blames worst power shortage on Washington : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

North Korea blames worst power shortage on Washington February 24, 2000 Web posted at: 9:52 a.m. HKT (0152 GMT)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea blamed the United States on Wednesday for its worst power shortage, which has disrupted railway service and heating as well as industrial production.

The Korean Central News Agency, the North's official foreign news outlet, said the shortage was caused by U.S. insistence that North Korea halt its nuclear power program.

Fearful that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons, Washington signed a 1994 pact with Pyongyang under which the communist government agreed to freeze its nuclear program.

MESSAGE BOARD The two Koreas

In return, a consortium of U.S., Japanese and South Korean partners agreed to build two 1,000-megawatt reactors that cannot be used for military purposes and provide 500,000 tons of fuel oil until the first reactor is built. However, delays have plagued the project.

"Never before in the history of Korea has there been such power shortage as today," said the Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA. "This is adversely affecting the overall economic life."

"Regular railway transport, heating and lighting as well as agriculture are seriously affected by the shortage," it said. "The Korean people hold the United States wholly responsible for all these difficulties."

KCNA said if the North had built the reactors as scheduled, its power problem would not be so serious.

Under the 1994 accord, the United States promised to build the first light-water reactor by 2003. Now officials say privately that a delay of several years is inevitable.

North Korea said the freeze and delays on the North's nuclear program has cost the country tens of billions of dollars in lost production.

Part of the delay was caused when North Korea fired a multistage rocket over Japan and into the Pacific in 1998. For more than a year, Japan angrily refused to endorse its share of the funding.

Planning and negotiations among the consortium partners also delayed the project.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 23, 2000

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