N.Korea Sues Taiwan Over Nuclear Waste Disposal Deal

North Korea has belatedly sued a Taiwanese power company for US$10.1 million for an unfulfilled contract signed 16 years ago to dump nuclear waste in the North, the Taipei Times reported on Sunday.

The daily said North Korea signed a contract with state-owned Taiwan Power Co. in January 1997 to dispose of 60,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste from the company in an abandoned coal mine in Pyongsan, North Hwanghae Province. But Taipower reneged on the deal under international pressure.

North Korea is now suing for the cost of building the disposal site.

"The company said it did not wire any payment to the North Korean government because the contract never went into effect and had become invalid," the Taipei Times wrote.

But Taipower "said that as of yesterday, it had not received any document stating that Pyongyang was seeking compensation for breach of contract."

Taiwan's attempt to move the nuclear waste to the isolated communist state 16 years ago met with strong protests from neighboring countries, particularly South Korea.

At the time, North Korea was going through a famine that resulted in over 1 million people starving to death. It was so desperate to secure hard currency that it even invited nuclear waste.

South Korea believed that if the North built a nuclear waste facility without adequate technology, the entire Korean Peninsula would suffer serious radioactive contamination. In 1999, Taiwan decided to build its own nuclear waste facility.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 04, 2013 12:51 KST