Does North Korea Now Come Out of the Cold?

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Does North Korea Now Come Out of the Cold?

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 07:49
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Does North Korea Now Come Out of the Cold? (Zbitnev / Shutterstock)
Does North Korea Now Come Out of the Cold? (Zbitnev / Shutterstock)

One of the more conspicuous developments since American President Donald Trump met with North Korea's Kim Jong Un earlier this month in Singapore has nothing to do with denuclearization but with the potential construction of a gas pipeline through North Korea and into the South. Discussions have begun to this end with Gazprom, which would deliver the gas and help in constructing the pipeline. In the run-up to the meeting, Putin pledged that Russia would help the peace effort along in any way possible, noting that Russia could play a big role in helping North Korea rebuild economically after years of isolation and international sanctions.

Indeed the thaw in tensions could be a boon to countries like Russia, which has expertise in closing down and cleaning up nuclear sites as well as in the supply of Russian gas across international borders.

South Korean officials hinted earlier this year a thaw in tensions on the Korean Peninsula could open the door to the construction of a Russian gas pipeline through countries divided by the 38th Parallel.

The most feasible source of Russian gas may be from the LNG facility on Sakhalin Island. This product could be imported via tanker and transmitted further through pipelines. Gazprom announced in late 2011 that it signed a memorandum of understanding with North Korea to build a natural gas transmission system to the Korean Peninsula.

Experts caution that it might be premature to begin finalizing business deals on the Korean peninsula. The agreement between Kim and Trump was vague and progress could easily be stymied when expectations on either side are not met. A plan of action detailing the next concrete steps should be an addendum to the Singapore meeting.

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