S Korea Signs $2.25 Billion Deal With Russia Nuclear Company

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea has signed a 3 trillion won ($2.25 billion) deal with a Russian state-run nuclear energy company to provide components for Egypt's first nuclear power plant.

South Korea's government said Thursday the contract between the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power and ASE requires the South Koreans to provide turbine-related equipment and construction work for the plant being built in Dabaa, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast.

ASE is a subsidiary of Rosatom, a state-owned Russian nuclear conglomerate.

A senior aide of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the negotiations were slowed by "unexpected variables," mainly Russia's war on Ukraine and the U.S.-led sanctions campaign against Moscow over its aggression.

Choi Sang-mok, Yoon's senior secretary for economic affairs, said South Korea provided an explanation to the United States in advance about its plans to participate in the Dabaa project and that the allies will maintain close consultation as the work proceeds.

South Korea has been participating in economic pressure campaign against Russia orchestrated by the Biden administration, ending transactions with Russia's central bank and sovereign wealth funds and banning the exports of strategic materials to Russia.

Choi did not specify how the crisis in Ukraine and the sanctions on Moscow caused difficulties for the negotiations between Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power and ASE, which has a contract with Egypt to build four 1,200 megawatt reactors.

He stressed there's no possibility that the technologies being supplied by South Korea to the project would clash with international sanctions against Russia.

"Any kind of issue can be met by various uncertainties, but those have all been resolved as of now, and that's why we were able to finalize the agreement," Choi said.

He expressed hope that South Korea's participation in the Dabaa project would help the country gain a foothold in future nuclear projects across Africa and also improve its chances to export to countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power had been engaging in negotiations with ASE as the preferred bidder for the turbine-related project since December, before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February this year.

Yoon's office said the participation in the Dabaa project is the country's biggest export of nuclear power technology since 2009, when a South Korean-led consortium won a $20 billion contract to build nuclear power reactors in the United Arab Emirates.

Yoon, a conservative who took office in May, has pledged to boost South Korean exports of nuclear power technology, which he insists were dented under the policies of his liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-in, who sought to reduce the country's domestic dependence on nuclear energy.

Yoon in a statement on Facebook said the deal reaffirms South Korea's "advanced technology and safeness and strong supply chains" in the nuclear power industry. His government has set a goal of exporting 10 nuclear power reactors by 2030.