South Korea and the United States agreed a new nuclear cooperation pact Wednesday that stopped short of granting Seoul the permission it had sought to start reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.
But Seoul welcomed the deal, saying it provided a framework for improving spent fuel management and boosting nuclear exports. The new pact, which replaces an existing 1974 accord, was struck after four-and-a-half years of intense, drawn-out negotiations.
The main sticking point had been South Korea’s desire to develop uranium enrichment and reprocessing capabilities in order to address concerns about energy security and the management of spent nuclear reactor fuel.
Seoul says its storage facilities for spent fuel will reach capacity in 2016.
Long-standing US policy opposes the spread of such capabilities because they can be used to produce weapons-grade nuclear material and therefore pose a significant proliferation risk.
A South Korean statement on the new deal was short on specific detail but suggested it opened the door to reprocessing sometime in the future, by allowing South Korea to conduct “research” into spent fuel management.
That includes research into “pyroprocessing”—a new technology considered largely proliferation resistant, since the product is thermally and radioactively far too hot to use for a weapon.
“We established a pathway to lift some restrictions on activities in Seoul-owned facilities and to allow certain activities in the future,” the statement from the foreign ministry said……..
The deal was signed by Park and the US ambassador to Seoul, Mark Lippert, and will now go through an internal review process in both countries prior to ratification.
South Korea is a key US military ally and analysts say Washington’s concerns on allowing reprocessing stem less from a distrust of Seoul’s ultimate intentions than from the impact it might have on negotiations with other countries.
There are also worries that wider concessions on reprocessing could further complicate efforts to roll back North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Currently, Japan is the only non-nuclear weapons state that has both the technical capability and international permission to operate a commercial spent-fuel reprocessing programme.
Seoul had argued that allowing Japan to reprocess while denying South Korea the same concessions, smacks of double-standards, but Japan was forced to accept highly intrusive safeguards and, US officials point out, it doesn’t have North Korea on its border.
South Korea is the fifth-largest consumer of nuclear energy in the world, and relies on 23 nuclear reactors to meet about 30 percent of its annual power needs.
It has sought to become a leading exporter of nuclear power plants since it won a $20 billion deal in 2009 to build nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates. http://phys.org/news/2015-04-south-korea-nuclear.html#jCp
South Korea claims North hacked nuclear data Hackers stole blueprints, employee data, and threatened “destruction” if demands not met, Ars Technica, by Sean Gallagher – Mar 18, 2015 The South Korean government issued a report today blaming North Korea for network intrusions that stole data from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), the company that operates South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors. While the government report stated that only “non-critical” networks were affected, the attackers had demanded the shutdown of three reactors just after the intrusion. They also threatened “destruction” in a message posted to Twitter………
In addition to identifying the malware used in the attack, the South Korean government’s investigation traced Internet traffic related to the attack back to addresses for a network in northeast China near the North Korean border. The government had earlier requested assistance from the Chinese government in identifying the source of the attack. http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/03/south-korea-claims-north-hacked-nuclear-data/
Hacker demands money to withhold information on S. Korean nuclear reactors Korea Times, SEJONG, March 12 (Yonhap) — A hacker who had posted inside information on South Korea’s nuclear power plants made a fresh threat Thursday, demanding money in exchange for not handing over sensitive information to third countries.
Using an account under the name of the president of an anti-nuclear group in Hawaii, the hacker posted additional files on Twitter, which reportedly included documents concerning the country’s indigenous advanced power reactor 1400.
“Need money. Only need to meet some demands… Many countries from Northern Europe, Southeast Asia and South America are saying they will buy nuclear reactor information. Fear selling the entire information will undermine President Park (Geun-hye)’s efforts to export nuclear reactors,” the posting said.
The hacker did not say how much money he wanted but warned that South Korea will end up losing much more if it tries to save a few hundreds of millions of dollars…….The latest posting marked the sixth of its kind since Dec. 15…….
In the latest posting, the hacker “congratulated” the KHNP for finding 7,000 viruses but claimed 9,000 more were awaiting his or her order.
The information released Thursday reportedly included the transcript of a telephone conversation between President Park and the U.N. chief, Ban Ki-moon, on Jan. 1. http://www.koreatimesus.com/hacker-demands-money-to-withhold-information-on-s-korean-nuclear-reactors/
Saudi Arabia, South Korea sign MOU on nuclear power Wed Mar 4, 2015 Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy, Saudi state news agency SPA said, building on a deal signed in 2011.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday in Riyadh during an official visit, SPA said.
The MOU calls for South Korean firms to help build at least two small-to-medium sized nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.
“If the two units go ahead, the cost of the contract will be (near) $2 billion,” the statement said……http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/saudi-south-korea-nuclear-idUSL5N0W61GM20150304
South Korea renews license of second-oldest nuclear plant, Japan Times, 28 Feb15 SEOUL – The South Korean nuclear regulator said Friday it renewed the operating license of the country’s second-oldest nuclear power plant until 2022, overriding the objections of residents and anti-nuclear groups.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said that seven of nine commissioners voted to restart the Wolsong No. 1 reactor located in Gyeongju city, 275 kilometers (170 miles) south of Seoul……..
South Koreans were sharply divided over the fate of the Wolsong No. 1 plant that had operated for 30 years until its license expired in 2012. Residents of Gyeongju and members of environmental groups staged protests near the nuclear watchdog’s office when the commissioners discussed the restart in three meetings since January.
The decision to restart Wolsong No. 1 could galvanize opponents and residents living in the areas of current and future plants, said Suh Kune-yull, nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University.
“I think there could be a backlash to the nuclear energy industry,” Suh said. “It will become increasingly difficult to extend the life span of other nuclear plants or to build new ones.”…….
Opponents of the Wolsong restart said the plant failed to meet the latest safety standards that came into effect after the reactor first went into operation, and that residents near the power plant want it shut down. …..http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/27/asia-pacific/south-korea-renews-license-of-second-oldest-nuclear-plant/#.VPDfBXyUcnk
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, which has more than 40% of the seats in the national parliament, has taken a negative stance on the use of nuclear power. In 2013, the alliance specified a “zero-nuclear” goal in its basic policy.
If the nuclear commission overturns the judgment about the safety of the Wolsong reactor, opposition parties and civic groups will certainly gather momentum.
Debate heats up over aging nuclear reactor http://asia.nikkei.com/print/article/76444 KENTARO OGURA, Nikkei staff writer EOUL — Nuclear power is generating intense debate in South Korea.
At the center of the storm is the Wolsong No. 1 nuclear reactor in the city of Gyeongju, which is now offline as it reached the end of its 30-year design life. Some say it should be allowed to resume operations.
If its restart is not approved, the reactor will become the first such facility in South Korea to be decommissioned.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission has already delayed a decision on the issue twice — on Jan. 15 and Feb. 12. Attention is now focused on the South Korean nuclear watchdog’s next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 26.
The nuclear commission is acting on an application for an extension of the nuclear reactor’s operational life span, which was filed by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power.
Mixed results Continue reading
Hacking of Korea’s nuclear operator raises risk of aging reactor closures Yahoo News By Meeyoung Cho SEOUL (Reuters) 12 Jan 15, – The hacking of South Korea’s nuclear operator means the country’s second-oldest reactor may be shut permanently due to safety concerns, said several nuclear watchdog commissioners, raising the risk that other aging reactors may also be closed.
“The operator failed to prevent it (the hack) and they don’t know how much data has been leaked. If the old reactor is still allowed to continue to run, it will just hike risks,” said Kim Hye-jung, one of the nine commissioners who will this month review an application to restart the Wolsong No.1 reactor.
The future of Wolsong No.1, shut in 2012 after reaching its 30-year lifespan, is seen as critical to the fate of other reactors, including the oldest Kori No.1 which had its lifespan extended by 10 years to 2017………
Even those commissioners who deem the reactor safe think that other issues such as public pressure will likely influence their decision, which is expected in February at the earliest.
Concerns over nuclear power have grown since the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 and revelations in 2012 of fake certificates for reactor parts in South Korea.
(Additional reporting by Sohee Kim and Brian Kim; Editing by Henning Gloystein and Michael Perry) http://news.yahoo.com/hacking-koreas-nuclear-operator-raises-risk-aging-reactor-070014531–finance.html
The specific details of the low-risk worm remain unclear. South Korea’s Energy Ministry says that the malware probably ended up on the nuclear power facilities through an unauthorized USB device. The reactor controls of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), the state-run utility affected, are not connected to any external networks. However, somewhat surprisingly, Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick told parliament that the worm was not connected to the other hacking incidents, a claim that “[drew] skepticism from some lawmakers,” according to Reuters. Either way, the worm and them hacks do not reflect well on the state of South Korea’s cybersecurity.
This is an especially worrisome attack in South Korea, since a third of the country’s power comes from nuclear reactors. Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that North Korea is to blame, and KHCP is beefing up its cybersecurity staff from 53 to 70. That still seems like a small number of people to guard 23 nuclear reactors, huh? [Reuters]
The accident at the construction site in the southeastern city of Ulsan came as the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co was on high alert over a series of threats by hackers who claim they can disable the control systems of its plants.
Korea calls on China for help following hack attempt on nuclear power company IP address used in the hack traced to city on China-North Korea border. Ars Technica by John Timmer – Dec 24 2014
Last week, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, which runs South Korea’s 23 nuclear plants, suffered a security breach in which personnel records, public health monitoring data, and reactor designs were obtained from the company’s systems and posted online. The attacker, which linked to the materials on an anti-nuclear activist site, also threatened to release further information unless three of the company’s plants were shut down by tomorrow.
Now, Korean investigators have identified a Chinese IP address as the source of the attacks and are asking the Chinese government for assistance in the investigation.
According to a report in The Korea Times, the attacks were routed through three different VPN service providers in the US, Japan, and Korea. By obtaining these records, the initial IP address that launched the attack were traced to the city of Shenyang, which is on the China-North Korea border.An article from Australia’s ABC indicates that this city hosts one end of North Korea’s main Internet connection to the outside world, which was severed earlier this week.
A number of sources confirm that South Korea has asked for China’s assistance in the matter and quote an unnamed official as saying the country isn’t pointing the finger at its neighbor: “There is a possibility that the IP addresses in China are not the final source but used in a routing.” But suspicion isn’t directed at China itself; rather, it’s suspected that North Korean agents were using the Chinese city for their activities……..http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/12/korea-calls-on-china-for-help-following-theft-from-nuclear-power-company/
South Korea nuclear plant hit by hacker, Lance Whitney , c/net 23 Dec 14 The hacking comes in the wake of increased tension and trouble from North Korea, though the source has not been confirmed. Computers at a nuclear power plant in South Korea have been compromised by a hacker, but the plant’s operator says no critical data has been leaked.
The hacker was able to access blueprints, floor maps and other information on the plant, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday. Using a Twitter account called “president of anti-nuclear reactor group,” the hacker has released a total of four postings of the leaked data since December 15, each one revealing internal designs and manuals of the Gori-2 and Wolsong-1 nuclear reactors run by Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), Yonhap added. The hacker has threatened to leak further information unless the reactors are shut down…………..
Government officials looking into the incident were able to trace the hacker’s IP address to a PC located in a specific location, Yonhap said. Investigators have been sent to the location as well as to the plant’s reactors to probe further. http://www.cnet.com/au/news/south-korea-nuclear-plant-hit-by-hackers/
Dealing with nuclear waste in South Korea The Korea Herald/Asia News Network December 21, 2014,The much awaited nuclear waste facility in Gyeongju will begin operations next year following final approval by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission last week. The Wolseong Low and Intermediate-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Center, consisting of six silos some 80 meters underground, can hold up to 100,000 barrels of radioactive waste.
A second-phase construction is underway to add a 125,000-barrel holding unit to the site, which is designed to store 800,000 barrels of nuclear waste over the next 60 years before it is sealed off.
A total of 23 nuclear reactors are responsible for about one-third of all power generated in Korea and produce 2,300 barrels of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste each year.
The country’s first low- and intermediate-level radioactive repository was realized some 28 years after the country started looking for a site. Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, was selected in 2005 after votes in four candidate cities. Almost 90 percent of voters in Gyeongju approved of the facility.
To win over communities that did not want a hazardous waste facility in their midst, the government promised 300 billion won in community support. The local community would also receive annual fees in addition to the initial grant.
The Gyeongju facility is just the first step. The country has yet to draw up a plan for dealing with the growing piles of spent nuclear fuel rods. Some 750 tonnes of spent fuel are produced each year by the country’s 23 nuclear power reactors.
Currently, spent fuel rods are stored temporarily on the reactor site pending the building of a centralized storage facility. About 13,250 tonnes were stored in different nuclear reactor sites as of end-2013 and it is estimated that the sites will become full incrementally between 2016 and 2038.
The Public Engagement Commission of 15 nuclear experts, academics, city council members and a representative of an environmental watchdog group was formed last year to engage the public in discussions about the spent nuclear fuel issues so that their opinions could be incorporated into policy decisions. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is expected to draw up a plan for disposing of spent fuel based on recommendations by the commission.
So far, the commission has released an interim report suggesting that a permanent disposal facility must be completed by 2055. It has not said where it could be built or what type of storage could be employed. The commission, in the meantime, has extended its mandate to June 2015.
The Gyeongju site for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste took 28 years to complete. A facility for the more hazardous spent fuel rods will be much more controversial. Hence, the building of a permanent storage site for spent nuclear fuel rods is an urgent matter that requires immediate government attention…….http://www.chinapost.com.tw/commentary/the-china-post/special-to-the-china-post/2014/12/21/424512/Dealing-with.htm
’14 reactors have ineffective parts’ http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/12/116_169248.html
A fire occurred in the nuclear fuel storage facilities of the Kori Nuclear Power Plant located in Kijang County, Busan City, but none of the workers was aware of it for over an hour.
According to the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Corporation, the fire occurred at 4:26 p.m., Nov. 11, at Kori Power Plant Unit 4, burning up a waste dryer along with some gloves and towels. It is assumed that the dryer overheated and started the fire while drying wet gloves……….
Power Plant Attempts to Cover Up Reactor Shutdown
But this fire is only the latest incident at the Kori Nuclear Power Station this year.
This past summer was a busy time for Kori Nuclear Power Plant, as Unit 2 was shut off because of heavy rainfall. On Aug. 25, a localized torrential downpour of over 100 mm per hour in Busan City resulted in rainwater infiltrating one of its annexes, and the corporation had to close the facilities.
At that time, the corporation covered up the incident by saying, “We shut down the facilities just in case, and this has nothing to do with the safety of the power station.” However, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission’s following report read, “The manual shutdown of the reactor was because of the malfunctioning of four of the circulation water pumps, attributable to the heavy rain.”
The ministry conducted security checks on power stations across the nation following online media reports about the leak in September. It found that staff shared their log-in IDs and passwords for the internal computer system with subcontracted employees of radioactive waste management companies. Night shift staff should have escorted these people from outside during their work, but instead they gave their security codes away simply because they were lazy………
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