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Moscow Offers Nuclear Reactor In Return For Disarmament

Source: Washington Post

January 30 2019

North Korea

Russia secretly offered North Korea a nuclear reactor in a bid to revive deadlocked negotiations over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, reports the Washington Post

Last fall, Russian officials offered to construct a nuclear power plant if North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.

As part of the deal, Moscow would operate the reactor and transfer all byproducts and waste back to Russia. 

U.S. intelligence officials became aware of the proposal in late 2018. The CIA estimated that the plant would produce a limited amount of weaponizable byproduct.

It is unclear if the offer is still on the table. 

Despite an apparent opening following a June 2018 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, U.S. intelligence agencies maintain that Pyongyang has made little effort to eliminate destroy its nuclear weapons program. 

According to the Worldwide Threat Assessment report, which was presented to the Senate on Tuesday, North Korea has not taken significant steps to destroy its nuclear weapons program and is unlikely to do so because it is critical to the survival of regime.

It is unclear how President Trump has taken the offer. Previous U.S. leaders have been skeptical of Russian influence in North Korea, which sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 

Trump has taken a different approach and could welcome a stabilizing presence, even at the expense of U.S. influence, said analysts. 

China and South Korea would also likely need to agree to the program. Beijing views North Korea as a key part of its sphere of influence. 

Russia likely sees the offer as an opportunity expand its role in the region for economic and security purposes, noted experts.

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