An official at the North Korea Railway authority said that the North Korean inland railway modernization project, which recently started in joint cooperation with Russia, is the starting point for connecting railways from South and North Korea to Russia and Europe.
Kim Cheol-ho, deputy general director for International Cooperation at North Korea’s Railway Department, said in an interview posted on North Korea’s propaganda weekly Tong-il newspaper, “The inland railway modernization project, which will be carried out jointly between North Korea and Russia to connect the Jaedong-Kangdong-Nampho railway stations, is the first step for the realization of the grand railway cooperation plan fit for mutual growth and interest of our two countries.”
“The project of reconstructing the railways is one of the cooperation projects that follow the agreement of the Moscow Declaration,” he added.
The Moscow Declaration was signed between North Korea’s former leader Kim Jong-il and Russian President Vladimir Putin while Kim visited Russia in August, 2001. Clause 6 of the Declaration states that they will make efforts toward building railways connecting South Korea, North Korea, Russia, and Europe.
North Korea and Russia agreed to jointly proceed with the inland railways modernization project and held a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 21 at Dongpyongyang station.
The Russian civil engineering and construction company Mostovik takes part in the project, called Pobeda in Russian, which means victory. It is estimated to cost US$25 billion (27 trillion won). The money will reportedly be secured by developing and selling North Korea’s natural resources.
Deputy General Director Kim said, “When the modernization project of Jaedong-Kangdong-Nampho railway stations is completed, we will progress with the other cooperative railway modernization projects at various stages.”
It was said that the fact that a government official at the North Korean regime emphasized that the project with the joint venture of Russia is the first stage for constructing South and North Korea-Russia-Europe railways is intended to create a trilateral cooperation system by involving South Korea in the project.
Ahn Byong-min, head researcher of the North Korea and Northeast Asia division at the Korea Transport Institute, said, “It seems that the North is trying to create a multilateral cooperation system by involving South Korea, amid the circumstance that the former cannot secure enough money for the project with only the participation of Russia.”