Want to dive deeper?
As part of the Agreed Framework of October 1994, in return for North Korea agreeing to freeze and ultimately dismantle its nuclear program, the United States agreed to build two 1,000MWe light water reactors (LWRs) of the Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant model in North Korea by 2003. The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was established in March 1995 to oversee the project. 1
In August 1997, KEDO signed a preliminary contract with Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) designating it as the main contractor. After a turnkey contract was signed in 1999 construction began at the Geumho-Jigu LWR project site. Excavation on the reactor buildings commenced in September 2001, and concrete for the first reactor bed was poured in August 2002. 2
In November 2002, the United States confronted North Korea about suspected uranium enrichment activity, and in response, North Korea expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from the country. The KEDO Executive Board voted to suspend heavy fuel oil shipments – also part of the Agreed Framework – to North Korea. The following month, North Korea announced it was lifting the freeze on its nuclear facilities, and asked the IAEA to remove the seals, cameras, and all monitoring devices from its nuclear facilities. 3
Not surprisingly, these political events impacted the ongoing LWR project. In January 2003, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and subsequently, the Executive Board of KEDO announced the suspension of the LWR project for one year beginning 1 December 2003. In November 2004, the Board of KEDO decided to extend the suspension of the project for another year. Pullout of all workers from the work site began in January 2006, and in May 2006, with the project 34.5% completed, the Board officially decided to terminate the LWR project. 4
In December 2006, KEDO ceded ownership of all the LWR equipment and parts to KEPCO. However, disposal of these materials, stored in South Korea, U.S., Japan, and France, is still ongoing. 5
- Agreed Framework
- Agreed Framework: The 1994 agreement between the United States and North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK) to "freeze" the DPRK’s nuclear program. The agreement outlined a 10-year program during which the United States, South Korea, and Japan would construct two new light-water-moderated nuclear reactors in the DPRK in exchange for the shutting down of all of the DPRK’s existing nuclear facilities. In addition, the DPRK agreed to remain a party to the NPT and to accept IAEA full-scope safeguards. The multilateral Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) would oversee implementation of the agreement.
See glossary entries for Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization; for additional information, see the Joint Declaration and KEDO.
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- IAEA: Founded in 1957 and based in Vienna, Austria, the IAEA is an autonomous international organization in the United Nations system. The Agency’s mandate is the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, technical assistance in this area, and verification that nuclear materials and technology stay in peaceful use. Article III of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires non-nuclear weapon states party to the NPT to accept safeguards administered by the IAEA. The IAEA consists of three principal organs: the General Conference (of member states); the Board of Governors; and the Secretariat. For additional information, see the IAEA.
- Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
- The NPT: Signed in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the most widely adhered-to international security agreement. The “three pillars” of the NPT are nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Article VI of the NPT commits states possessing nuclear weapons to negotiate in good faith toward halting the arms race and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty stipulates that non-nuclear-weapon states will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and will accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on their nuclear activities, while nuclear weapon states commit not to transfer nuclear weapons to other states. All states have a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and should assist one another in its development. The NPT provides for conferences of member states to review treaty implementation at five-year intervals. Initially of a 25-year duration, the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995. For additional information, see the NPT.
- “About Us: Our History,” KEDO, www.kedo.org.
- “Light Water Reactor Project: Turnkey Contract,” KEDO, www.kedo.org.
- “핵시설들의 가동과 건설을 즉시 재개 Immediate Resumption of Operation and Construction of Nuclear Facilities,” Yonhap News Agency, December 12, 2002, www.yonhap.co.jp; “IAEA Director General Calls for DPRK Restraint,” WorldAtom Press Release, PR2002/21, 12 December 2002, www.iaea.org.
- Yoon Jong-suk, “공중분해'된 KEDO 경수로 기자재 KEDO LWR Equipment Scattered,” Yonhap News Agency, 28 March 2011; “About Us: Our History,” KEDO, www.kedo.org.
- Yoon Jong-suk, “공중분해'된 KEDO 경수로 기자재 KEDO LWR Equipment Scattered,” Yonhap News Agency, 28 March 2011.