S. Korea to set aside US$20 million to send heavy fuel oil to N. Korea


South Korea has earmarked 20 billion won (US$21.3 million) to provide 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea as part of a recent nuclear agreement in which the North agreed to take the initial steps toward nuclear disarmament, the Unification Ministry said Monday.

“The government embarked on internal preparations to provide 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil for North Korea in accordance with the six-nation agreement,” said Yang Chang-seok, spokesperson for the ministry.

He said the oil shipment will cost an estimated 20 billion won, including delivery expenses, adding that the details will be worked out during the upcoming meeting of a working group on energy aid.

Earlier in the day, the ministry made the announcement to a panel of the National Assembly on unification and foreign affairs, after the decision was approved by the state-run committee of inter-Korean exchange and cooperation.

“The government will commission the Public Procurement Service to choose a local oil refinery for the project. It will cost about $350 per metric ton, and incidental charges of delivery will constitute about 20 percent,” Yang told reporters.

On Feb. 13, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities and eventually dismantle them in exchange for energy aid and other benefits. The United States also agreed to discuss normalizing relations with the communist nation.

Under the deal, North Korea will receive initial aid equal to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil for shutting down and sealing its main nuclear reactor and related facilities at Yongbyon, 80 kilometers north of Pyongyang, within 60 days. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors will determine whether the North carries out the steps properly.

The communist nation can eventually receive another 950,000 tons in heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid if it disables the reactor irreversibly and declares that it has ended all nuclear programs. The cost of aid will be equitably distributed among the five other countries in the six-party talks, which are South Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia.

The agreement also calls for the establishment of five working groups, one of which is to address the normalization of Washington-Pyongyang diplomatic relations. The groups are to convene within 30 days of the Feb. 13 accord.


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