A California think-tank has signed agreements with North
Korean rural energy experts for a two-year collaboration
to help solve critical energy problems in that country while
building working relations with U.S. specialists.
Peter Hayes, Executive Director of the Berkeley-based Nautilus
Institute, made the announcement after the five-member delegation
from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
departed May 4 from San Francisco for Beijing, China.
During the two-and-a-half-week visit, Dr. Hayes said, the
Nautilus Institute signed an agreement with the North Korean
delegation to continue the Institute's ground-breaking
collaboration over the coming two years on rural energy in the
DPRK. The two sides agreed to work together on energy
efficient water pumping for agriculture and human
consumption in the DPRK.
Previously, the Nautilus Institute helped North Korean energy
specialists build several windmills for power generation,
supplying a health clinic, a kindergarten, and 20 homes in a
rural village. The project was approved by the two countries'
governments as a humanitarian relief effort.
"After arriving on April 17, the DPRK rural energy delegation
spent two weeks in California, Delaware, and Washington, DC
and visited many public and private energy facilities," Dr. Hayes
The visitors also went to U.S. Department of Energy* headquarters, where they were briefed on renewable energy technologies. In
Delaware, the visitors spent a day on a rural electric
cooperative, where they saw first-hand how electricity is
distributed in rural areas of the United States.
In Berkeley, they also participated in a two-day workshop of
scholars and experts on rural energy issues. The workshop was
co-sponsored by Nautilus Institute, the Energy and Resources
Group* at the University of California at Berkeley, and the Institute
on Global Conflict and Cooperation* at the University of California
at San Diego.
"This is the first time that North Korean energy experts and
technicians have engaged in a forthright and open way in such
scholarly exchange with American academics and experts," said
"The North Korean scholars came well prepared for this event,
and provided substantial insights into the crucial links between
food, fuel and famine in North Korea," he added.
"It became starkly clear in our discussions that there can be no
solution to the food problem in North Korea without provision of
adequate energy for production, distribution and preparation of
food," he asserted.
He stated that the US study tour was preceded and will be
followed by a study tour on rural energy in China hosted by the
Energy and Environmental Technology Center at Tsinghua
University in Beijing.
"This three way non-governmental cooperation between the
United States, China and the DPRK is very positive for improving
the relations between countries in the region," he said.
Nautilus also released via the World Wide Web a set of photographs
of the DPRK Rural Energy Delegation in the United States.
The private project, funded by the W. Alton Jones Foundation* in
Virginia, is the first American non-governmental attempt to
engage cooperatively with North Korea on energy and food
Nautilus has previously collaborated on two successful
energy-related projects with North Korean NGOs. In December
1997, Nautilus sponsored the first energy study tour of the US by
a DPRK delegation, focusing on renewable energy and energy
efficiency. The tour visited a variety of manufacturers, national
laboratories, electric utilities, NGOs, and government agencies,
and included the first-ever DPRK visits to the headquarters of the
Department of Energy and the World Bank.*
In 1998, a Nautilus team designed and built a wind power system
in the North Korean village of Unhari, to provide electricity for
humanitarian purposes such as clinic refrigeration and home
lighting. This marked the first time that US and DPRK engineers
have worked side-by-side in a field project of this kind. Further
information, including photos and media coverage, can be
obtained at the Nautilus Institute web site at
Last Thursday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists* published a
detailed account of this project in the DPRK in its May issue.
The Nautilus Institute is a non-profit research and education
organization based in Berkeley California.
More information: Contact Steve Freedkin by email or at (510) 204-9296.
*Links with asterisks may open in a new browser window.