North Korea sanctions threaten Park’s Eurasia Initiative

The Eurasia Initiative, an inter-Korean railroad connecting to Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway, and on to Western Europe, is at risk of being scrapped after the South Korean government decided Tuesday to pull out of a joint logistics project involving the two Koreas and Russia.

Russian Trans-Siberian Railroad train

Russian Trans-Siberian Railway train

The Eurasia Initiative is South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s signature project. She wanted to create a unified logistics and energy network across the Korean Peninsula, Russia and Europe in the long term. The Rajin-Khasan project, the project just nixed, was a pivotal part of the initiative introduced in October 2013.

The Rajin-Khasan project would have created and secured an international sales route for Siberian coal through a railroad between Russia’s border town of Khasan and North Korea’s ice-free port of Rajin. South Korean enterprises involved in the project imported coal from Rajin on Chinese-flagged vessels in three trial runs from 2014 to 2015.

However, that’s all been thrown up in the air after the imposition of sanctions Tuesday on Pyongyang. The government said it will ban the entry of foreign ships if they have visited North Korea six months before making a port call here.

Park Geun-hye

Park Geun-hye

Seoul’s sanctions follow a March 2 resolution by the UN Security Council in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear test, Jan. 6, and a long-range rocket launch, Feb. 7.

“It’s risky to say that the government will officially scrap the Eurasia Initiative but the independent sanctions will inevitably and eventually lead to end of Park’s ambitious diplomatic plan,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies told the Korea Times.

Park Young-ho of the Korea Institute for National Unification told the Korea Times that Seoul has consistently said its punitive measures against Pyongyang will be lifted only when the military state gives up its nuclear ambitions.



Categories: Asia Unhedged, China, Koreas

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