The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is raising questions about the future of the proposed Inter-Korean Gas Pipeline to run between Russia’s Far East region via North Korea to South Korea. Kim led negotiations on the project, meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in last August.
Russia and North Korea had reportedly been making significant progress on the project in the days before Kim’s death, while under the implementation schedule outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed between Russia and South Korea in September 2011, conclusion of a gas-supply deal was scheduled for between January and April 2012 with a view to launching construction of the pipeline by 2013.
Kim’s death seems likely to freeze progress on the project for the immediate term. Nevertheless, since the revered Kim supported the project, there will be continued incentives to engage with Moscow on the pipeline with a view to securing transit fees for the regime.