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Seoul Willing to Offer N. Korea Nuclear Reactor

<i> From Associated Press</i>

President Kim Young Sam offered North Korea a billion-dollar nuclear reactor if the North proves it isn’t making nuclear weapons.

Kim made the offer today as part of a deal with North Korea to open its nuclear facilities to inspections by U.N. officials.

In exchange, North Korea agreed Saturday at talks in Geneva with U.S. diplomats to stop development of its nuclear program until it is under international inspection.

Light-water reactors are regarded as safer than the Soviet-style plants. They also make less plutonium--a fuel for nuclear bombs.

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“If and when the North guarantees the transparency of its nuclear activities, we are ready to support their development of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including light-water reactor construction,” Kim said during a ceremony marking the 49th anniversary today of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonialism in 1945.

“This could well become the very first joint project for national development leading to the establishment of a single community of the Korean people,” he said.

Kim emphasized that North Korea must show that its nuclear program is peaceful, as it claims, and that it has no military aspects.

South Korea has an advanced nuclear power industry, with nine reactors in operation, and can manufacture light-water reactors on its own. Such a reactor takes up to 10 years to build and costs about $2 billion.

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As part of the deal, the North also promised not to reprocess 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods, removed from a reactor in May. Reprocessing the rods could give the North enough plutonium to make five or six bombs.

In exchange for the South Korean reactor, the South Korean president said, the rival government in Pyongyang must also open nuclear facilities to southern inspectors under a 1992 agreement calling for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.


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