NEW YORK, Nov. 26 -- An international consortium said Friday that it has extended for another year a freeze on a project to build two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea.
The four main partners in the New York-based Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization -- the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union -- had previously suspended the project for a year through Dec. 1, 2004.
The freeze will be extended until Dec. 1, 2005, the group said in a statement.
Reports from South Korea and Japan in recent months have said the United States sought to kill the program outright but could not persuade Seoul or Tokyo to adopt that stance. The two countries are heavily invested in the $4.6 billion light-water reactor program, which is about one-third complete.
The reactor projects were started after a 1994 deal in which North Korea agreed to dismantle its Russian-model heavy-water reactors producing plutonium.
In exchange, the international partners agreed to build two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors, which do not produce large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct, and to send annual shipments of 500,000 tons of fuel oil to help North Korea ease its chronic power shortage.
The U.S.-funded deliveries of fuel oil were halted in 2002 after North Korea acknowledged that it also had a secret uranium-enrichment program that could produce weapons, in violation of the 1994 U.S.-North Korean accord and of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which North Korea signed in 1985.