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Brussels, May 22 1997

European Union to join North Korea nuclear security body

The European Union looks set to play a key political and economic role in Korea following today's initialling of the terms of entry into the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO), the body set up two years ago to increase nuclear safety and reduce the threat of proliferation in North Korea. After formal agreement by the Commission, the texts will be sent to the Council of Ministers for approval. Under the terms of the Accession Agreement, the EU, through the Euratom Treaty, will work towards KEDO's objectives as a full member of the Executive Board, on the same terms as the original members (South Korea, Japan and the USA). The EU envisages contributing ECU 75 million to KEDO over a five year period, broadly comparable to the USA's contribution.

KEDO was set up in March 1995 as part of an international initiative amid growing fears over safety and nuclear proliferation connected with North Korea's nuclear energy programme. It aims to provide North Korea with new and proliferation-safe light water reactors, using improved technology and safety features. KEDO's funds will also be used for ancillary supplies of heavy fuel oil as interim energy alternatives. The EU's participation will be through the Euratom Treaty.

On the occasion of the initialling, Sir Leon Brittan, Vice-President of the European Commission, said:

"By joining KEDO Europe is sending a strong signal of the importance it attaches to strengthening political and security ties in Asia. Active involvement in KEDO highlights the EU's political commitment to East Asia and its financial commitment will contribute significantly towards international non-proliferation. It will also create opportunities for EU companies to compete for KEDO projects in a fair and open industrial tendering process. Our interest in East Asia is no longer just a commercial one. Joining KEDO is a practical example of our wider involvement"

The Accession Agreement is regarded as a political priority by the EU, which pledged support and approved, in principle, EU participation at the European Council in Madrid in December 1995. It is also a declared priority of KEDO and its original members.

Background

An Agreed Framework between USA and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was signed on 21 October 1994, to meet concerns raised by the DPRK's decision to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

This Agreed Framework provides for the DPRK to freeze its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities. In return the US undertook to organise an international consortium to supply and finance two Western-designed Light Water Reactors (LWRs) and interim energy alternatives to the DPRK. To that end, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) was established. The original members are the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan and USA.

Recognising that the KEDO project will contribute to preserving the international nuclear non-proliferation regime (by restoring full NPT compliance in the DPRK and replacement of the Russian reactors by more proliferation-resistant LWRs), to promoting reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, to peace and security in East Asia, and to improving nuclear safety conditions, the European Council of 16 December 1995 pledged support to KEDO and approved EU participation in principle. The Commission proposed to the Council that Euratom should participate in KEDO on behalf of the European Union.


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