American Ally Strikes Nuclear Deal with Russia

by Micaela Burrow


South Korea reached an agreement with Russia’s state-run nuclear giant to jointly construct a reactor turbine despite sanctions and widespread global hostility toward Russia, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

South Korea’s state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) and ASE, a subsidiary of Russia’s Rosatom, will collaborate in a $2.25 billion venture to provide components for Egypt’s first nuclear reactor, according to the AP. Economic affairs chief Choi Sang-mok said the U.S. ally consulted with the U.S., who has led the sanctions regime to isolate Russia from the global economy, before striking the deal.

“Any kind of issue can be met by various uncertainties, but those have all been resolved as of now, and that’s why we were able to finalize the agreement,” Choi told the AP.

Officials claimed the deal would not violate international sanctions levied on Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine and promised to communicate with the U.S. throughout the terms of the contract, the AP reported.

Go Myong-hyun, a senior analyst at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said the deal would likely have required the U.S. to give an export approval to KHNP for use of technology originating in the U.S., according to the AP. The U.S. Treasury Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

South Korea is a critical U.S. ally in the Asia-Pacific region, providing key defensive and economic assets, according to the State Department. In 2020, South Korea was the sixth largest U.S. trading partner and remains an important collaborator on nuclear non-proliferation issues.

Go added that the existing sanctions regime, intended to bring down Russia’s economy and cripple the war effort in Ukraine, does not specifically target nuclear energy, the AP reported.

Negotiations for the contract began in December, months before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the AP reported. A senior aide to South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol told the publication that “unexpected variables,” including international sanctions, delayed the negotiations.

South Korea banned certain exports to Russia and broke off ties with Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and central bank following the imposition of wide-ranging sanctions, according to the AP.

Officials did not elaborate on how South Korea resolved the sanctions issue, the AP reported.

KHNP is required to provide certain materials and equipment for a nuclear power plant in the coastal town of Dabaa, the AP reported. ASE has a contract to construct a total of four 12,000 megawatt reactors.

The U.S. and South Korea conducted large-scale joint military drills Monday for the first time since 2017 amid increasing threats to the region from North Korea and China.

The Republic of Korea’s trade ministry, the Russian government, KHNP and Rosatom did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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Micaela Burrow is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “South Korea-Russia Negotiations” by CC BY 4.0.




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