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Hong Won Choi
Hong Won Choi is an NK News contributor based in London.
North Korea has opened a Russian-funded transhipment terminal in the north eastern port of Rajin, according to a report carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 18.
The terminal cost over $250 million to construct and can facilitate the transfer of up to five million tonnes of freight per year.
KCNA said the wharf “provided another foundation for making a positive contribution to boosting the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries and economic and trade relations among countries of Europe and Northeast Asia”.
Before completion of the project the port’s freight handling capacity was four million tonnes annually.
The wharf’s location is strategically important for the project as Rajin is the furthest northern ice free port in the region, meaning that a continuous flow of trade can be maintained during winter.
The KCNA report also featured a picture of a Chinese cargo vessel already making use of the new facilities. At 44 thousand tonnes, the ship is nearly twice the size of the largest vessel in the North Korean fleet.
The new facility is part of the Rajin-Khasan Project, which also includes the reconstruction of a 54 km railway that links the port to Khasan on the Russian border.
“The successful reconstruction of the Rajin-Khasan railway section and the completion of Wharf No. 3 of Rajin Port are precious products of the vitality of the Moscow Declaration signed by leader Kim Jong Il and President V. [Putin]”, said Jon Kil Su, Minister of Railways for North Korea, during the opening ceremony.
Russian shipping news website Port News reported that the work on the project was carried out by DPRK-Russian joint venture RasonKonTrans and the JSC Trading House RZD, a subsidiary of Russian Railways, and the local port authority of Rajin.
The Rajin-Khasan and Trans-Korean projects are part of the wider Moscow Declaration, an agreement to boost trade and economic cooperation between North Korea and Russia, signed in July 2000 by Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Il.
President of the Russian Railways Company Yury Viktorovich Bochlkarev, the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Chongjin, and other dignitaries were also present at the ceremony.
Officials from South Korea’s Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL), Hyundai Merchant Marine and the POSCO steel making company also visited Rason City near Rajin between June 15 and 22 to assess the project.
Featured Image: KCNA