Thursday, November 21, 2013

Putin in Seoul: Huge Step Toward Peace and Development

34 International EIR November 22, 2013
Nov. 15—Russian President Vladimir Putin and South
Korean President Park Geun-hye signed a truly historic
set of agreements for close cooperation on a wide
range of development projects on Nov. 13 in Seoul.
Several of the proposed projects directly involve
North Korea, although nothing was said about North
Korea’s approval. The conclusion drawn by sources
within South Korea is that Putin had pre-arranged
some level of support from Pyongyang,
which will only be worked out
over time.
The agreements include measures
to revive earlier plans for rail and
pipeline construction through North
Korea, and a plan for several South
Korean corporations to invest in a
Russian-North Korean consortium
which is building a rail and port facility
in North Korea. Putin and Park
also agreed that South Korea will
expand its particpation in the development
of the Russian Far East, involving
rail, energy and facilities for
space exploration.
This strategic agreement, linking
the Republic of Korea and Russia, is
a crucial step toward coordination
of efforts by all the nations of East
Asia for the mutual development of
the region, and for resolving the long-standing crisis
on the Korean Peninsula—the last remaining vestige
of the Cold War, and a favorite target for imperial interests
to stir up “divide and conquer” conflicts in
It also contributes to the strategic vision of Lyndon
LaRouche for the development of the Pacific Basin as
the “New Frontier” for global peace and develop-
Putin in Seoul: Huge Step
Toward Peace and Development
by Michael Billington
EIR International
Presidential Press and Information Office
Russian President Putin and South Korean President Park signed an historic set of
agreements Nov. 13, also involving North Korea, in what is being seen as a crucial
step toward mutual development of the region.
November 22, 2013 EIR International 35
ment—which the U.S. can and must join, for its own
survival, and for the betterment of mankind.
Joint Eurasian Development
President Park described the set of agreements
coming out of her meeting with President Putin: “We,
the two leaders, agreed to combine South Korea’s
policy of strengthening Eurasian cooperation and
Russia’s policy of highly regarding the Asia-Pacific
region to realize our mutual potential at the maximum
level, and move relations between the two countries
forward. . . . South Korea and Russia will join
hands to build a new Eurasian era for the future,” she
The summit produced 17 cooperation agreements,
most having to do with joint economic development,
and many of them implying some level of North
Korean involvement. According to the South Korean
news agency Yonhap, a memorandum of understanding
(MOU) on South Korean participation in the Russian-
led Rajin-Sonbong (called Rason) development
project in North Korea was the most tangible outcome
from the summit. It calls for POSCO (South Korea’s
steel giant), Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., and Korea
Railroad Corp. to participate in the Rason development
The Korean consortium plans to buy a stake in RasonKonTrans,
the Russian-North Korean joint venture
carrying out the rail and port renovation project, including
the now-concluded reconstruction of the rail link
from Rason to Khasan in Russia, and on to Vladivostok.
A final decision on the planned purchase will be
made after a due diligence study in the first half of next
year, officials said. The state company Russian Railways
has a 70% stake in the joint venture, with North
Korea holding the remaining 30%. News reports have
said that the South Korean consortium plans to buy
about half the Russian stake.
The project fits into Park’s “Eurasian initiative,”
which calls for binding Eurasian nations closely together
by linking roads and railways to realize what
she called the “Silk Road Express” running from
South Korea to Europe via North Korea, China, and
Once the project to modernize the port of Rason is
completed, the rail-connected port can be used as a hub
for sending cargo by rail from East Asia to as far away
as Europe. South Korean firms will be able to ship exports
first to Rason, and transport them elsewhere via
Russian Railways.
The long-discussed project to link the railways of
South Korea with Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway, via
North Korea, and through to Europe, is also back on the
table—the two sides signed an MOU on rail cooperation
and agreed to study the project as a long-term venture.
The rail project has been talked about for many
years, but little headway has been made due to security
tensions between North and South Korea. It is hoped
that Russia’s current expanding influence in the world,
when coupled with support from China, will provide
the means to solve the Korean crisis through the “Peace
through Development” approach.
The two leaders also signed an MOU to enhance cooperation
in shipbuilding. Officials said the deal laid
the groundwork for South Korea to win orders to build
at least 13 liquefied natural gas tankers for Russia, on
the condition of technology transfer to modernize Russia’s
own shipbuilding industry.
To that end, three Russian firms, Rosneft, Gazprombank,
and Sovcomflot, formed a consortium with the
South Korean shipbuilding company Daewoo to establish
an engineering and shipbuilding cluster in the
southern part of Primorskiy Krai in the Russian Far
Creative Commons
North Korea, with Rason in the Far Northeast
36 International EIR November 22, 2013
East. The deal includes the construction of a new shipyard,
Zvezda, to be opened in 2016, with a Russian-
Korean engineering center for shipbuilding and marine
equipment for offshore projects.
Other projects in which the two sides agreed to cooperate
as long-term ventures, included building a natural
gas pipeline linking Russia and South Korea via
the North, and developing Arctic shipping routes to
reduce shipping distances and time between Asia and
One of the most promising agreements was for
South Korea to participate in the Vostochny Cosmodrome
space complex, a potential mainstay of Russia’s
Far East development. Its first launches are now expected
in 2018, after serious delays in the project. In the
past, the U.S. refused to help South Korea develop a
rocket launch capability, with the excuse that such a
program would create a competition for missiles with
the North. So, the South Koreans turned to the Russians
for help, and together they fielded the Korea Space
Launch Vehicle, KSLV-1, with Russian industry providing
the first rocket stage.
Unfortunately, neither of the first two test flights, in
2009 and 2010, was successful, and each side blamed
the other for the failures. This acrimony finally abated
with the successful test of a KSLV-1 last January, and
now, South Korea will participate with Russia in its Far
East Cosmodrome.
North Korea’s Crucial Role
Although nothing official has been said about North
Korea’s agreement to these projects, a North Korean
Foreign Ministry representative was in China on the
day of Putin’s visit, praising China’s role in developing
the Rason area, which has been carried out in parallel
with the Russian projects in the area. China has constructed
a highway from their relatively landlocked
northeast to Rason, providing an outlet to the sea, and
has constructed ports, industrial zones, farming, and
other projects in the region.
“The DPRK [North Korea] government is taking
positive measures to speed up economic development
by promoting economic cooperation with other countries
and attracting investment,” the North Korean official
Also on the agenda between Presidents Putin and
Park was the effort to revive the Six-Party Talks, involving
the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, and North and
South Korea, to resolve the issue of North Korea’s nuclear
weapons programs. The initial success in resolving
the problem during the Clinton Administration,
which led to the South building a nuclear power plant in
the North in exchange for ending the production of nuclear
weapons-capable fuel, was sabotaged by the
Bush-Cheney regime, which led in turn, to the North
producing a bomb.
In an interview on Korean Broadcasting System TV
before his visit, Putin said, in regard to the Six-Party
Talks: “We have a good and trusting relationship with
the Republic of [South] Korea, but traditionally, we
have maintained good contacts with the Democratic
People’s Republic of [North] Korea. I think that this is
a kind of advantage that Russia has, and that, without
any doubt, we intend to, and we will take steps to get
things moving.” He then emphasized that such a solution
of the Korea problem would be based on mutually
beneficial development programs.
Nothing short of building trust based on such largescale
development projects of benefit to all sides can
restore peace to the Korean Peninsula, and end the imperial
capacity to use the issue to provoke division, and
even war, in Asia.
This English
translation of the
work of Russia’s
presents a critical
analysis of the
complex economic
processes in
Russia following
the collapse of
the Soviet Union.
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