South Korean officials say that the construction of two reactors in North Korea may have to be delayed. They claim that GE backed out of a deal to supply turbine generators for the project in December last year because of contractual problems. GE reportedly was concerned about any financial liabilities that may involve it in case of accidents at the plants.
Under a 1994 agreement, the US-led Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) is required to build two 1000MW reactors in return for North Korea’s promise to freeze its suspected nuclear weapons programme. Both reactors were set to be built by 2003 and 2004, respectively, but KEDO officials have said that several years of delay is now inevitable. Due to severe energy shortages, North Korea is asking South Korea to supply it with 500MW of electricity a year pending completion of the reactors.
The $4.6 billion project has previously been held up due to funding problems among the consortium’s three key organisers - the US, Japan and South Korea - and political and military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.