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In the race to sell off nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, South Korea looks like the winner

South Korea’s KEPCO shortlisted to bid for Saudi nuclear project https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-southkorea-nuclear-saudi/south-koreas-kepco-shortlisted-to-bid-for-saudi-nuclear-project-idUKKBN1JR1G4, Reuters Staff, 1 July 18   SEOUL  – State-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (015760.KS) (KEPCO) had been shortlisted to bid for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia along with the United States, France, China and Russia, South Korea’s energy ministry said on Sunday.

“We were informed by our Saudi counterpart, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, that KEPCO was shortlisted for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the winner of the tender was expected to be chosen in 2019. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, plans to build two nuclear plants to diversify its energy supply and has been in talks with companies from South Korea, the United States, Russia and China for the tender.

In May, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met South Korean Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu in Seoul. Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event that he was “optimistic” about South Korea being on the tender shortlist.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power user, is seeking to export its nuclear reactors abroad.

In 2009, a South Korean consortium led by KEPCO won an $18.6 billion (14.08 billion pounds) deal to construct four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates, the country’s ever nuclear export success.

KEPCO was also selected as a preferred bidder in December last year for Toshiba’s NuGen nuclear project in Britain and the Korean company planned to talk with Toshiba to buy a stake in the project.

Reporting By Jane Chung and Cynthia Kim. Editing by Jane Merriman

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July 2, 2018 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korean nuclear reactor to be shut down early. Plans for new reactors cancelled

Korea Times 15th June 2018 , The Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) said Friday its board has decided to shut down the Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, before the end of its lifespan and scrap all plans for building
four new reactors across the country.

“According to the government’s energy policy shift, we have reviewed operational plans of Wolsong reactors several times and concluded keeping the Wolsong-1 operating under strengthened safety regulations would not be economical,” KHNP CEO Chung
Jae-hoon said in a press conference in Seoul.

“Also, the plans for building new reactors of Cheonji-1,2 and Daejin-1,2 would be terminated in order to eradicate uncertainties in the KHNP’s management and restore smooth relations with local residents.”
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2018/06/325_250740.html

June 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

After closing test site, North Korea could later still resume nuclear bomb tests

 Why Closing Kim’s Test Site Won’t Hinder His Nuclear Plans, Bloomberg By David Tweed and Kanga Kong May 15, 2018, 

A decade ago, the last time North Korea took talks with the U.S. so far, then-leader Kim Jong Il blew up a cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear plant as part of a deal to limit its weapons program. Within months, he was reassembling the reactor — a key source of weapons-grade plutonium. That’s one reason why arms-control experts are watching with caution as his son, Kim Jong Un, now moves to publicly dismantle the remote subterranean testing site used by the regime to detonate six nuclear bombs.

…….Does North Korea need more tests?

Possibly not. Both India and Pakistan established themselves as nuclear powers after a similar number of tests — and neither has detonated a bomb since 1998. In his April 20 statement announcing the Punggye-ri closing, Kim said the country’s efforts to build a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile had progressed to the point where tests were no longer necessary. Still, it’s unclear whether North Korea has figured out how to prevent a warhead from burning up during re-entry from space.

Would the site’s closing be permanent?

No. A 38 North analysis of satellite images taken May 7 showed that several support buildings outside the northern, western and southern portals had been razed while some mining cart rails had been removed. Such facilities can be replaced as easily as the Yongbyon cooling tower. Lewis, of the Middlebury Institute, argues that the tunnel’s horizontal layout would also make it relatively easy to “pop” open the sealed entrances and regain access after their closing.

 

What about building a new tunnel?

A new test site could be constructed in three to six months, depending on how much labor was thrown at the job, according to Suh Kune Y., a nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University. Future detonations — most likely to test warhead miniaturization — might only require a simple straight tunnel with one right angle at the end, he said.

What about other sites?

North Korea, which is believed to manage a vast subterranean network in part to frustrate U.S. and South Korean spies and military planners, probably has other locations that could house tests. Suh pointed out that North Korea refers to the Punggye-ri facility as its “northern test site,” possibly implying there are others. And, of course, tests don’t need to be underground. In September, North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested that his country could detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-15/closing-kim-s-test-site-won-t-hinder-his-nuke-plans-quicktake

May 16, 2018 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hotline set up between North and South Korea

North and South Korea set up first hotline between leaders ahead of summit  , ABC News 21 Apr 18 
North and South Korea have installed the first telephone hotline between their leaders as they prepare for a rare summit next week aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.

Key points:
Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in will make their first call before next week’s summit
Their meeting will be only the third since the end of the Korean War in 1953
Kim Jong-un could also meet Donald Trump in May or June

South Korea’s presidential office said a successful test call was conducted on the hotline between Seoul’s presidential Blue House and Pyongyang’s powerful State Affairs Commission.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plan to make their first telephone conversation sometime before their face-to-face meeting next Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Too early to celebrate?

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have agreed to meet — but what’s the significance of the meeting and is it too early to have a sigh of relief?

South Korean officials say the hotline, which will be maintained after the summit, will help facilitate dialogue and reduce misunderstanding during times of tension………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-20/koreas-set-up-first-hotline-between-leaders-ahead-of-summit/9682364

April 21, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Researchers from 30 countries call for boycott of South Korean university, in campaign against lethal autonomous weapons

We are locked into an arms race that no one wants to happen, global researchers warn
A CHILLING letter claims the world is on the cusp of opening a dangerous Pandora’s box — and there is no going back.  http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/we-are-locked-into-an-arms-race-that-no-one-wants-to-happen-global-researchers-warn/news-story/fc6dfa060c66ed876beb79d1b7530cc6  Nick Whigham@NWWHIGHAM  5 Apr 18 

The boycott comes in advance of a meeting next Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, of 123 member nations of the United Nations discussing the challenges posed by lethal autonomous weapons. Twenty-two of those nations have already called for an outright and pre-emptive ban on such weapons.

The open letter announcing the boycott against the South Korean university said autonomous weapons are the “third revolution in warfare” and warned about letting the genie out of the bottle.

“At a time when the United Nations is discussing how to contain the threat posed to international security by autonomous weapons, it is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons,” the letter said.

“We therefore publicly declare that we will boycott all collaborations with any part of KAIST until such time as the President of KAIST provides assurances, which we have sought but not received, that the Center will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control,” the researchers said.

“If developed, autonomous weapons will be the third revolution in warfare. They will permit war to be fought faster and at a scale greater than ever before. They have the potential to be weapons of terror. Despots and terrorists could use them against innocent populations, removing any ethical restraints. This Pandora’s box will be hard to close if it is opened.”

Professor Walsh organised the boycott which involves researchers from 30 countries and includes three of the world’s top deep learning experts, Professor Stuart Russell from the University of California, Berkeley, who authored the leading textbook on AI and roboticist Prof Wolfram Burgard, winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the most prestigious research prize in Germany.

“Back in 2015, we warned of an arms race in autonomous weapons,” Professor Walsh said in a statement alongside the letter. “We can see prototypes of autonomous weapons under development today by many nations including the US, China, Russia and the UK. We are locked into an arms race that no one wants to happen.

“KAIST’s actions will only accelerate this arms race. We cannot tolerate this.”

Professor Walsh has long campaigned against the development of autonomous weapons.

He has previously travelled to speak in front of the United Nations in an effort to have the international body prevent the proliferation of so-called killer robots with the ability to think for themselves.

Speaking to news.com.au last year he said “the arms race is already starting.”

He believes it’s no longer a question of whether military weapons are imbued with some level of autonomy, it’s just a matter of how much autonomy — which poses a number of worrying scenarios, particularly if they fall into the wrong hands.

“They get in the hands of the wrong people and they can be turned against us. They can be used by terrorist organisations,” he warned.

“It would be a terrifying future if we allow ourselves to go down this road.

April 6, 2018 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear colonialism: nuclear nations keen to sell uneconomic nuclear power – e.g South Korea to United Arab Emirates

Arab world’s first nuclear reactor completed in UAE, in cooperation with South Korea, Arab Weekly    1 April 18 LONDON – Construction of the Arab world’s first commercial nuclear reactor has been completed in the United Arab Emirates. The plant is part of the country’s long-term strategy to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels.

The Barakah nuclear power plant, in western Abu Dhabi, is a joint project between the UAE’s Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan toured the $20 billion facility with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and announced on March 26 the completion of the construction“This is a historic moment in our nation’s development as we celebrate the construction completion of Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear energy plant,” Sheikh Mohammed said……

Emirati officials said Barakah was the world’s largest single nuclear project. ……https://thearabweekly.com/arab-worlds-first-nuclear-reactor-completed-uae-cooperation-south-korea

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | marketing, South Korea, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un promises not to use nuclear weapons against Seoul after high-level talks

JUST when the world thought they had him pegged, Kim Jong Un has stunned with an apparent about face on nuclear weapons. News.com.au   Victoria Craw@Victoria_Craw   7 Mar 18NORTH Korea has vowed not to use nuclear weapons against South Korea and could impose a ban on further nuclear and missile tests during talks with the US, South Korean media reports.

The stunning about face followed the first meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean officials since 2011.

It led to claims Kim Jong Un would not use conventional weapons against South Korea and had no reason to possesses nuclear weapons if it has a security guarantee.

The leaders also agreed to establish a “hotline” between the countries to reduce military tensions and will meet for another summit in late April at the border village of Panmunjom.

President Trump weighed in on the news on Twitter, saying “the US is ready to go hard in either direction”.

The surprising series of apparent concessions came after Kim Jong Un and top officials dined with South Korean leaders face-to-face in their first meeting in seven years.

The North Korean leader was joined by his wife Ri Sol-Ju and sister Kim Yo-jong, for the four hour session designed to advance inter-Korean relations.

South Korean security adviser, Chung Eui-yong told local media after the two-day talks in Pyongyang that North Korea committed to denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

“The North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and said it would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed,” he said.

He added the North said it would hold “candid” talks with the US on how to reinstate bilateral ties, while agreeing there would be no further tests while talks are in progress…………http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/kim-jong-un-promises-not-to-use-nuclear-weapons-against-seoul-after-highlevel-talks/news-story/f57c3d72b90d8aea56df8eb944399070

March 7, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korea hopes to open nuclear talks, sends national security chief to Pyongyang

Seoul sends envoy to North Korea in hope of opening nuclear talks, Telegraph UK , Nicola Smith, taipei 4 MARCH 2018 

South Korea is to send its national security chief to Pyongyang on Monday to discuss how to resume dialogue between the US and North Korea over its nuclear and weapons programme.

President Moon Jae-in announced on Sunday that Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office, and his intelligence chief Suh Hoon, would lead a ten member delegation on a two day trip to the North.

The envoys will deliver a letter from Mr Moon to North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, although it is still uncertain if they will meet with him personally. It would be the first time for Kim to meet with a South Korean official since he came to power in 2011.

The delegation is expected to hold talks that would pave the way for a possible summit meeting between the leaders of South and North Korea after Kim Jong-un last month invited Mr Moon to visit Pyongyang.

The envoys are “expected to hold talks with North Korea’s high level officials to discuss ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and develop the South-North Korea relationship,” presidential chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said.

………https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/04/seoul-sends-envoy-north-korea-hope-opening-nuclear-talks/

March 5, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

 South Korea Urges US Support for North Korea Nuclear Talks

Voice of America, Brian Padden
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is continuing efforts to broker talks between the U.S. and North Korea to reduce tensions over the North’s nuclear program, despite facing reluctance from Washington and Pyongyang, and increasing concerns at home.On Monday, North Korea expressed a willingness for talks with the United States, but did not clarify whether Pyongyang is prepared to address halting and eventually dismantling its threatening nuclear program. The support for dialogue came from Kim Yong Chol, the controversial head of the visiting North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics closing ceremony. Kim has been accused of orchestrating a North Korean torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in 2010 that killed 46 sailors.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the North’s sudden openness to dialogue with skepticism on Monday, saying, ” We’ll see what happens” and that the “right conditions” must first be in place before talks can proceed.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it is working to address Washington’s concerns.

“Our government will continue to make efforts to persuade North Korea to respond promptly to the U.S., North Korea dialogue, while at the same time closely communicating and consulting with the U.S. on the future direction of North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy,” said Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk.

Conflicting strategies

While North Korea now says it is willing to talk, its defiant rhetoric, and the numerous missile launches and two nuclear tests conducted in the last year, indicate a more threatening posture. Kim Jong Un responded to increasing international sanctions by declaring his country a nuclear weapons state, and set upon developing an operational intercontinental ballistic missile capability to target the U.S. mainland.

The Trump administration responded with a “maximum pressure” campaign, imposing economic sanctions, along with an emphasis on the threat of military action, if necessary, to force the Kim government to give up its nuclear program.

Last week the President issued new unilateral sanctions on companies and vessels linked to North Korean shipping trade to further restrict Pyongyang’s ability to bypass sanctions, by obtaining oil and selling coal, using ship to ship transfers.

Trump’s insistence that conditions first be met before talks can proceed supports his “maximum pressure” approach, but it also seemed to pull back from the position voiced by Vice President Mike Pence after he visited South Korea to lead the U.S. Olympic delegation for the opening ceremony. Pence said the U.S. would be open to exploratory talks without conditions, while maintaining sanctions pressure.

The mixed messages coming out of Washington may suggest that Trump has not been entirely supportive of President Moon’s very assertive diplomatic outreach to engage North Korea during the Olympics.

“I think the United States government was not completely happy with the degree to which the U.S. government was consulted or not consulted before the South Koreans invited in the North Korean officials and athletes into the games,” said Denny Roy, an Asia Pacific security expert with the East-West Center in Honolulu. ……https://www.voanews.com/a/south-korea-urges-us-support-for-north-korea-nuclear-talks/4272234.html

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, has called on the US to “lower the bar” for discussions with North Korea

US urged to ‘lower bar’ on nuclear demands for North talks Independent ie, Julian Ryall, February 27 2018 Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, has called on the US to “lower the bar” for discussions with North Korea, suggesting Washington should drop its insistence that Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal must be part of any future talks.

The intervention comes as North Korea is rumoured to be warming to direct talks with the US.

However, Pyongyang has consistently stated that its atomic weapons are its security guarantee and, therefore, not open to debate.

Calling on the US to soften its stance, Mr Moon also said Pyongyang must demonstrate willingness to abolish its nuclear weapons.

Looking to build on the positive momentum generated by the South’s hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, which closed on Sunday, Mr Moon used a meeting with Liu Yandong, the Chinese vice premier, to suggest that the key protagonists should both make concessions.

“The United States needs to lower its bar for dialogue and the North, too, must show its willingness to denuclearise,” Mr Moon said, according to a government spokesman…..https://www.independent.ie/world-news/asia-pacific/us-urged-to-lower-bar-on-nuclear-demands-for-north-talks-36647757.html

 

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

USA and South Korea will announce plans to renew military drills

US and South Korea to announce plans for military manoeuvres with more than 320,000 troops, Express UK. 20 Feb 18

SOUTH KOREA and the United States will announce plans before April for a postponed joint military drill, South Korea’s defence minister said today. Seoul and Washington had agreed to postpone the regular joint military exercise until after the Winter Olympics being hosted in South Korea, which end on March 18.

After the decision to delay the joint exercise, North Korea  agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea in more than two years and send athletes to the Winter Games, easing a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Asked when the two countries will hold the postponed drill, Song Young-moo told parliament he and his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, would make an announcement between March 18 and the start of April.

“The exercise was postponed according to the spirit of the Olympics,” Song said.

“We have agreed to uphold the basis until after the Paralympics…and not to confirm nor deny anything regarding what we would do after that until we announce it”………..https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/921486/USA-south-korea-plans-more-military-manoeuvres-north-korea-threat-troops

February 21, 2018 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korea’s President Moon urges U.S., North Korea, to talk

Moon urges U.S., North to talk, Korea JoonGang Daily 19 Feb 18 
That is the key to a summit in Pyongyang, Blue House maintains  President Moon Jae-in said Saturday it is premature to talk about an inter-Korean summit, making clear that Washington and Pyongyang have to get closer to talking before that can take place.
“Anticipations are high, but I think it is too impetuous,” Moon said when a reporter asked if he will hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “It’s like the old Korean saying that you are looking for hot water from a well.”

Kim sent his younger sister Kim Yo-jong to South Korea as a special envoy and she delivered an invitation to Moon on Feb. 10 to visit Pyongyang. Moon has yet to formally accept. Moon told his North Korean visitor: “Let’s create the environment for that to be able to happen.” …..

Moon said he is satisfied that various goals he set for the Olympics are being achieved. “One of the most important goals was prompting peace through the PyeongChang Olympics,” he said. “North Korea’s participation successfully eased tensions on the peninsula and the inter-Korean team and joint cheerleading impressed the world.

“Because inter-Korean talks made significant accomplishments, I have expectations for more improvement,” Moon said.

“Consensus is growing that dialogue between the United States and North Korea is necessary,” he said. “We are expecting that the ongoing talks between the two Koreas will lead to talks between the United States and the North and eventually denuclearization talks.”……..

Moon’s attempt to arrange a meeting between chief delegates of the United States and North Korea on the sidelines of the Olympics’ opening ceremony failed very publicly, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence refusing to engage with the North Korean visitors at a reception and in the viewing box of the opening ceremony. But U.S. officials are increasingly indicating their willingness to talk to the North………http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3044665

February 19, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

A South Korean province considers co-hosting the 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea

South Korea official floats idea of co-hosting Asian Games with North, SBS News 18 Feb 18 
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – A South Korean province is considering a proposal to co-host the 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea in a bid to strengthen inter-Korean ties, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said on Saturday, quoting provincial governor Choi Moon-soon.

Gangwon province, host for the current 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, is considering the idea also as a way of making further use of Olympics venues, Choi was quoted as saying.

North Korea is participating in the Pyeongchang Games at the invitation of the South, which is using them to help ease tensions between the two countries, still technically at war.

The host city for the 2021 event has not been decided yet.

A spokesman for South Korea’s sports ministry said it “hopes to continue sports exchanges with North Korea after the Winter Games” but it had not yet discussed any bid for the 2021 Games……..https://www.sbs.com.au/news/south-korea-official-floats-idea-of-co-hosting-asian-games-with-north

February 19, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Quiet diplomacy brought South and North Korean athletes together for the Winter Olympics

The Quiet Diplomacy to Save the Olympics in a Nuclear Standoff, NYT. 

February 10, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Top U.S. nuke envoy says Washington wants talks with N.K. for denuclearization 

http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2018/02/02/0401000000AEN20180202008700315.html  SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) — The top U.S. nuclear envoy said Friday that Washington wants to open dialogue with North Korea for its denuclearization.

After meeting with South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung in Seoul, Joseph Yun also told reporters that he sees the resumed inter-Korean talks and easing tensions after the North’s decision to join the upcoming Winter Olympics as a “good opportunity” for denuclearization efforts.

“We want to open dialogue with North Korea, we want to have a credible dialogue, a dialogue that could lead steps towards denuclearization,” he said. “That is our goal and of course President Moon has also emphasized that goal too.”

February 3, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment