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South Korea wants nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment

the South Korean government also wants to acquire a uranium enrichment capacity to make the traditional fuel for reactors — another activity banned by the 1974 accord because enriched uranium can also be used for weapons………. South Korea’s ambition is tied to its drive to become a major exporter of nuclear reactors.

U.S. Wary of South Korea’s Plan to Reuse Nuclear Fuel, By CHOE SANG-HUN New York Times,  July 13, 2010 “……another nuclear dispute is emerging on the Korean Peninsula — this one between the United States and South Korea. South Korea, which has no oil reserves, derives 40 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors and is running out of space to store the highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel.

So the South Korean government wants to reprocess the used material — both to provide fuel for its next generation of fast-breeder reactors and to reduce its stored waste.

But South Korea is prohibited from such activities under a 1974 agreement with the United States. The plutonium that results from reprocessing spent fuel can power nuclear reactors — which South Korea insists is its only goal — but can also be used to make atomic bombs, as North Korea has done.

Washington wants to rein in the spread of reprocessing and enrichment as it grapples with North Korea and Iran over their nuclear programs. It retains some suspicions about South Korea, which briefly pursued nuclear weapons in the 1970s and experimented with reprocessing later. Allowing South Korea to reprocess or enrich the fuel, the United States fears, would set a precedent for other nations and give North Korea a pretext not to abandon its nuclear weapons program…………..

the South Korean government also wants to acquire a uranium enrichment capacity to make the traditional fuel for reactors — another activity banned by the 1974 accord because enriched uranium can also be used for weapons.

South Korea’s ambition is tied to its drive to become a major exporter of nuclear reactors. In December, it won a $20 billion contract to build four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. Wary of South Korea’s Plan to Reuse Nuclear Fuel – NYTimes.com

July 15, 2010 - Posted by | politics international, South Korea | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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