Kaesong shutdown not to affect nuke development: North Korea

Seoul, Feb 20 (IANS) The recent shutdown of an inter-Korean industrial complex will not affect Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, as it started before the opening of the zone, North Korea said on Saturday.

North Korea’s development of nuclear and “space” programmes will remain intact after the shutdown, adding that South Korea’s plan to cut the funding of such projects by closing the complex will be unsuccessful, Yonhap news agency reported.

The South Korean government decided to close the operation of the joint complex in the North’s border city of Kaesong in response to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Around 54,000 North Korean workers were employed by 124 South Korean firms in production facilities in Kaesong.

The shutdown of the industrial zone is set to drive Kaesong-based South Korean firms to “death”, the report said.

The measure has drawn mixed views on its effects, given the fact that local manufacturers had run production facilities there with the output hovering above $500 million in 2015.

Global credit appraiser Moody’s Investors Service, meanwhile, earlier said the shutdown will have only a limited impact on South Korea, as the zone contributes only around 0.04 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product.

In 2013, the industrial zone was also closed due to Pyongyang’s protest against a joint military exercise between South Korean and the US forces.

The two Koreas still technically remain in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex first went into operation in 2004.

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