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South Korea experts say more study needed on Japan’s nuclear water plan

Yahoo! News, Hyonhee Shin, Wed, 31 May 2023 

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean nuclear safety experts who visited Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Wednesday that detailed analysis was needed to verify Japan’s plan to release tonnes of contaminated water from it into the sea…………

Japan plans to dump more than one million tonnes of contaminated water that was mainly used to cool the reactors into the sea by around this summer, triggering alarm at home and abroad, especially in fishing communities.

“Given our closest location, we are reviewing whether Japan has an appropriate discharge plan from a scientific and technological standpoint,” Yoo Guk-hee, chairman of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, who led a delegation on a site visit last week, told a briefing.

……….. The 21-member South Korean team had focused during its six-day trip on water purification, transport and release equipment, as well as sampling and analysis facilities.

The visit came days after President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a summit in Seoul this month amid a thaw in relations following years of tension between the neighbours, both important U.S. allies…………


June 2, 2023 Posted by | oceans, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korean nuclear experts to tour Fukushima plant amid water concerns

Japan Times, BY ERIC JOHNSTON. STAFF WRITER. May 22, 2023

A team of South Korean experts arrived in Japan on Sunday for an unprecedented six-day visit that will include a trip on Tuesday to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where the government is planning to release treated water into the ocean as part of a decadeslong decommissioning process.

Concerned about the aftereffects of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, South Korea continues to uphold a ban on seafood and marine imports from the area around the Fukushima No. 1 plant, despite Japanese government insistence the food is safe.

Nuclear Safety and Security Commission Chairperson Yoo Guk-hee is heading a 21-member team of government experts, who on Monday met with nuclear officials from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) and various government agencies that oversee Japan’s nuclear power industry. They will tour the plant on Tuesday and Wednesday, paying particular attention to Japan’s plans to discharge treated water, currently being stored at Fukushima No. 1, into the ocean…………….

May 26, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, water | Leave a comment

Drink Fukushima water if it’s clean, South Korea tells Japanese officials

 South Korea’s opposition leader has challenged Japanese officials to
drink treated radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power
plant amid concerns over Tokyo’s plan to release the water into the sea.
Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, implored
Japanese officials to make good on their claims that the radioactive water
is filtered and safe to be released into the sea. There are fierce protests
from local fishing communities as well as neighbouring countries such as
South Korea, China, and the Pacific Island nations following concerns over
the consequences of releasing the water.

 Independent 16th May 2023

May 19, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

US deployed Nuclear Disablement Teams to S. Korea in March

The Dong-A Ilbo . 01, 2023 

It was confirmed that South Korea and the U.S. conducted training during the Freedom Shield joint exercise in March to enter North Korea and disable its nuclear weapons in case of emergency. The U.S. Department of Defense released the details and pictures of the March training on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service on Wednesday, the day of the summit between the two countries. It is deemed a warning against North Korea, following the ‘Washington Declaration’ made by the two countries’ leaders, which mentions measures to strengthen extended deterrence, including setting up the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG).

According to the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army’s Nuclear Disablement Teams (NDT) trained with the South Korean Army’s Nuclear Characterization Teams (NCT) from March 20 to March 24. The training was for entering North Korean territory and removing warheads mounted on missiles in case of emergency. This is the first time that the U.S. Army’s deployment of NCT to South Korea and its joint training with the South Korean Army were revealed.

In the pictures, the members of South Korean and the U.S. armies are inspecting protective equipment during the training. The Department of Defense explained that NDT disables the infrastructure and components of nuclear and radioactive weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to remove the enemy’s capabilities, making the following WMD removal operations easier. The South Korean Army’s NCT is part of the ROK Army CBR Defense Command under the Ministry of National Defense and conducts similar missions as the U.S. NDT…………………….more

May 2, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

US to send nuclear-armed submarines to South Korea

27 Apr 23,

The deployment, the first of its kind in decades, comes amid persistent missile tests by the North.

The US will deploy submarines to South Korea armed with nuclear ballistic missiles, officials told reporters on Tuesday. Intended to deter North Korea from further missile tests, the deployment is also likely aimed at reassuring the South Korean public, who recently learned that the US systematically spied on their government.

The plan will be officially announced by US President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart, Yoon Suk-yeol, at the White House on Wednesday, the officials said in comments to multiple US media outlets. 

Both men are expected to sign an agreement known as the ‘Washington Declaration,’ under which they will step up intelligence sharing and joint military exercises, while the US will send nuclear-armed submarines and bombers to South Korea on a rotating basis.

We intend to take steps to make our deterrence more visible through the regular deployment of strategic assets, including a US nuclear ballistic submarine visit to South Korea, which has not happened since the early 1980s,” one of the anonymous officials said. They compared the move to “what we did with European allies during the height of the Cold War in similar periods of potential external threat,” referring to the north’s missile program.

Pyongyang has test-fired more than 100 missiles since the beginning of 2022, and this month alone tested its first solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile and a nuclear-capable underwater attack drone. Officials in Washington and Seoul have claimed since last year that the north is gearing up for its seventh underground test of a nuclear weapon.

North Korea considers US deployments near its territory to be “provocations,” and usually responds with verbal threats, drills of its own, or new weapons tests.

Aside from deterring North Korea, the deployment of nuclear-armed submarines to the south is likely intended to patch up relations between Washington and Seoul, which were rocked when recently-leaked Pentagon documents revealed that the US spied on top South Korean officials to determine their stance toward sending arms to Ukraine. 

The official told reporters that “by undertaking these new procedures,” the US hopes to remind Seoul that America’s “commitment” to the country is “unquestioned.”

April 30, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden and South Korea’s Yoon sign new agreement on nuclear weapons

By Jean Mackenzie in Seoul & Madeline Halpert in New York, BBC News 26 Apr 23

US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol have secured a landmark deal which includes plans to periodically deploy US nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea.

Washington has also agreed to involve Seoul in its planning for any use of nuclear weapons against North Korea.

In return, South Korea has agreed to not develop its own nuclear weapons.

………………………………… It does not ink a total commitment from the US that it would use nuclear weapons to defend South Korea if North Korea were to attack.

……… Plans for a nuclear-armed submarine to visit South Korea for the first time in four decades adds further weight to the US commitment.

In return, the US has demanded that South Korea remain a non-nuclear state and a faithful advocate of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The US sees dissuading South Korea from going nuclear as essential, fearful that if it fails, other countries may follow in its footsteps.

But it is unclear how this commitment will be received by the influential, and increasingly vocal, group of academics, scientists and members of South Korea’s ruling party who have been pushing for Seoul to arm itself.

April 28, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment

Questions about S.Korea-USA ‘ironclad’ commitment lead to impossible nuke solution

Korea Joong Ang Daily, BY MICHAEL LEE [] 23Apr 23

“…………  The Korea-U.S. alliance now stands at a crossroads as it marks its 70th anniversary………

South Korean politicians have made headlines in recent months by calling for an independent nuclear deterrent in a shift that experts say is driven by questions about the reliability of Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to defend Seoul.

These politicians include President Yoon Suk Yeol and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who have publicly mused in recent months about the need for South Korea to bolster its security by means of developing an independent nuclear deterrent or persuading the United States to re-deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the peninsula that were withdrawn in 1991…………………….

To signal its commitment to defending Seoul, Washington has upped the frequency of U.S. strategic assets on rotation around the peninsula, especially as the North conducted a record 95 missile launches last year and announced the frontline deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and a new preemptive nuclear strike doctrine in April and September.

Seoul’s lack of say in how nuclear weapons would be used

But the United States has thus far ruled out re-deploying tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula or setting up a nuclear sharing framework with South Korea similar to the one in place in some NATO states, such as Germany and Turkey, which participate in storing and planning the use of U.S. nuclear weapons in the absence of their own deterrent.

U.S. President Joe Biden in January shot down suggestions by Yoon that the two countries are planning joint nuclear weapons exercises, leaving South Korea without a codified say in the key question of how U.S. nuclear weapons could be employed in its defense.
It remains to be seen if decision-making on the use of nuclear weapons in a potential inter-Korean conflict will stay entirely in the hands of Washington.

According to a South Korean government official who spoke on condition of anonymity to the JoongAng Ilbo on March 27, “joint planning on how the U.S. extended deterrence and the nuclear umbrella will be maintained in potential scenarios involving an armed conflict” is on the agenda of Yoon’s summit with Biden later this month.

South Koreans worry about future U.S. administrations……………………………….

Failure of diplomacy with Pyongyang

International deadlock…………………………………….

Differing views of the role of the alliance regarding China

But all the experts agreed that the real test of Seoul’s alliance with Washington would come in the event of an armed conflict between the United States and China.
 …………..Kim agreed that the prospect of a U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan was looming, if less publicly discussed, source of insecurity in Seoul’s alliance with Washington……… more

April 26, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

S.Korea’s Yoon to meet Biden as doubts grow over nuclear umbrella

By Hyonhee Shin, SEOUL, April 24 (Reuters) – South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol set off on Monday for the for the United States and a summit with President Joe Biden at a time of rare questioning in South Korea of an alliance that has guaranteed its security for decades.

………….. as North Korea races ahead with the development of nuclear weapons and missiles to carry them, there are growing questions in South Korea about the relying on “extended deterrence”, in essence the American nuclear umbrella, and calls, even from some senior members of Yoon’s party, for South Korea to develop its own nuclear weapons.

A recent poll by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies showed that more than 54% of respondents believed the U.S. would not risk its safety to protect its Asian ally.

More than 64% supported South Korea developing its own nuclear weapons, with about 33% opposed.

Yoon has been pushing to boost South Korea’s say in operating the U.S. extended deterrence but exactly what that might entail has not been spelt out……………

April 25, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The (South) Korean Nuclear Threat

13 APR 2023, By Dr Jeffrey Robertson, Australian Institute of International Affairs

South Korea is in the midst of a debate to secure nuclear weapons and few outside realise the seriousness and level of the debate. Few inside realise the question is much bigger than just South Korea, with great implications for the region, including Australia. 

Debate on securing an independent nuclear weapons capacity once sat on the fringe of mainstream politics in Seoul. The extreme left and right, ex-military, religionists, and mavericks seeking attention were its champions. This is no longer the case. Today it is widely accepted, even common. Polls taken over the last year put public support in the 70-80 percent range. Securing nuclear weapons is now mainstream, viable, and if trends continue, even likely.

What makes South Korea want nuclear weapons? There’s a ready response from those pushing the agenda. North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and concerns regarding a rising China. Each can readily be used to justify the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Yet, each are just squalls on the surface of the sea. Underneath, more powerful currents are pushing the pursuit of nuclear weapons: national pride, the desire to be more independent, and a healthy dose of domestic political opportunism.

National pride is a core contributor to the decision to pursue nuclear weapons. For both Koreas, there’s a keen sense of historical injustice marked by invasions from all sides, including occupation, and division. For South Koreans, there’s also a competitive streak that stretches from the individual to the national desire to be number one. There’s even speculation that the U.S. would be willing to allow Seoul to secure nuclear weapons in order for it to play a larger role in balancing China, placing South Korea at a new level of partnership with Washington. Among many, securing a nuclear weapons capacity provokes a certain element of national pride: more than just a middle power – a member of the nuclear weapons club.

The desire to be more independent is also an important contributing factor……………………………..

Domestic political opportunism is the icing on the cake…………………………… The current president, Yoon Suk-yeol, has made remarks supporting the acquisition of nuclear weapons, and the Mayor of Seoul – a position that is a stepping stone to the presidency – has also stated his support. Nuclear weapons will see multiple candidates jump on the bandwagon in the lead-up to the April 2024 legislative elections, and likely more than one candidate in the 2027 presidential elections.

Proliferation, from France to North Korea, is a story of national pride, independence, and political opportunism. South Korea is no different.

t is likely the consequences of this momentous decision to pursue an independent nuclear weapons capacity have not been fully thought through. ………………………………..

n the 1960s, Australia made the decision to forego nuclear weapons in the context of a global diplomatic and strategic understanding that proliferation could be controlled. Since that time, debates about Australia securing nuclear weapons have arisen, but they’ve never been mainstream. Debates in recent years have been more brain-storming and speculation than serious policy-specific programming. A South Korean decision to pursue nuclear weapons would substantially transform strategic outlooks across the region and lead to a more serious debate in Australia. The current nuclear submarine debate would look like a Sunday School picnic.

Jeffrey Robertson is an Associate Professor of Diplomatic Studies at Yonsei University and a Visiting Fellow at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne. He researches the diplomatic practice and foreign policy of middle powers with a focus on the Korean Peninsula. He writes and updates research at and on Twitter @junotane.

April 13, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

After leak of secret documents, South Korea to raise spying allegations with U.S.

Leaked papers reportedly show that U.S. gathered signals intelligence from Seoul, a close all

South Korean officials said Sunday they will “come up with our response accordingly” after revelations that the U.S. reportedly spied on its close ally and gathered signals intelligence related to South Korea‘s internal debate over weapons sales to the U.S., and Seoul‘s fears that those weapons would ultimately end up in Ukraine.

Officials in Seoul said they’ll raise the alleged spying — which came to light as part of a major leak of sensitive documents over the weekend — with their U.S. counterparts.

For both countries, the timing is delicate. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is scheduled to visit Washington and join President Biden for a state dinner at the White House on April 26.

We will review precedents and instances involving other countries, and come up with our response accordingly,” a South Korean presidential official said Sunday after being asked about the revelations, according to the country’s Yonhap News Agency.

The New York Times first reported the leak Friday.

April 12, 2023 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korea to keep Fukushima seafood ban despite thaw with Japan

Aljazeera, 30 Mar 23

President Yoon Seok-yeol’s administration says ‘health and safety’ top priority despite improving Seoul-Tokyo ties.

South Korea has ruled out lifting a ban on Japanese seafood imports from the area around the Fukushima nuclear plant despite warming relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

“Seafood imports from near the tsunami-stricken plant will “never come into” South Korea due to health concerns related to leaked radiation, the administration of President Yoon Seok-yeol said on Thursday.

With regard to the import of Japanese seafood products, the government’s stance remains unchanged that the health and safety of the people are the top priority,” the presidential office said in a statement, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

South Korea has banned Japanese seafood imports from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, since 2013 due to fears of radiation contamination from the meltdown of the plant following an earthquake and tsunami.

…………………………………………….. Apart from South Korea, mainland China and Hong Kong continue to block imports of food from the region, including all dairy products and fruits and vegetables.

March 30, 2023 Posted by | health, oceans, South Korea | Leave a comment

Sung-Hee Choi reports on U.S.-NATO military expansion in South Korea.
Struggle continues in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island opposing U.S. Navy operations at the new naval base
Global Network Advisory Board member Sung-Hee Choi reports on the latest developments in South Korea as Washington expands military operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
‘We are a target’, she says.

This aggressive military expansion, labeled the ‘Asia Pivot’ by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is creating major tensions in the region as the US prepares for war with China, North Korea and Russia.

During the interview Sung-Hee talks about the US Navy destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) that recently ported at the Navy base in Gangjeong village on Jeju. She shares a short video of a protest held at the base as the destroyer crew members were bussed to a hotel outside of the village.

The DDG 115 was built in Bath, Maine and during the ‘Christening’ of the warship in 2015 several members of the peace community from across the state were arrested for non-violently blocking the streets and entrances surrounding the shipyard as the public was invited to attend the ceremony. (Regular peace vigils are held at Bath Iron Works in Maine where these destroyers are built. Currently there are seven more under construction.)

There has long been a connection between Maine and the activists in Gangjeong village.  Over the years eight Maine-based activists (as well as hundreds of other international peaceniks) traveled to the village to join protests against the Navy base construction that was forced on South Korea by Washington.

In another part of the interview Sung-Hee reports on recent (and on-going) US-NATO war games aimed at North Korea. She shares a second short video of protests in Seoul opposing these war games.

Near the end of the interview Sung-Hee talks about how the US Space Force has assigned personnel to South Korea and is drawing their nation into the larger US program of militarizing space.

March 24, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korea coming for a slice of Africa’s emerging nuclear power market

As African countries firm up their nuclear power ambitions, South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), a subsidiary of state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation is coming for a share of the continent’s emerging market.…… (Subscribers only

March 22, 2023 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, South Korea | Leave a comment

Seoul aims to use strengthened US ties to expand nuclear plant exports

The Yoon Suk Yeol administration has scrapped the former Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear phase-out policy based on the view that nuclear power is essential for the long-term sustainability of South Korea’s economy and its nuclear power industry

Settlement between Westinghouse and KEPCO is necessary for Washington-Seoul to expand alliance into nuclear energy

Korea Times, By Kim Yoo-chul 26 Feb 23,

Unlike the previous Moon Jae-in administration, President Yoon Suk Yeol and his foreign affairs team are clearly aiming to grow South Korea into a pivotal state given Seoul’s competitive standing to increase interoperability among a range of partners, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.

This policy drive is backed by his administration’s concerted backing of Washington’s various protectionist industrial policies and regional security agenda items.

South Korea’s support of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), CHIPS and Science Act, the country’s participation in a U.S.-initiated Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and Chip 4 alliance are the examples signifying Seoul’s shift toward U.S. policies………………………….

Seoul’s backing of [U.S. President Joe] Biden’s signature industrial and regional security policies illustrates the fact that the country is prepared to withstand any economic and political costs by raising its profile as an advocate of major policy initiatives outlined and being managed by the U.S.’ partners and its like-minded allies,” a senior government official said in a telephone interview, adding that the majority of his comments do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of South Korea.

Despite Seoul maintaining strategic cooperation with Beijing given its heavy reliance on the Chinese market _ China is the largest trading partner of South Korea _ and China’s huge political influence on North Korea, the Yoon administration’s apparent shift in position favoring the Biden administration’s moves to revive U.S. manufacturing, has so far been successful……………………………………..

Now, as the Biden administration has set its sights on boosting U.S. energy independence, the Yoon administration is hoping to expand its alliance with Washington into nuclear energy, in addition to batteries and chips, security analysts and company officials said.

SMRs emerge as option, legal troubles

The prime goal of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is aimed at addressing rising inflation. However, the IRA also includes several tax incentives for clean energy technologies including advanced small modular reactors (SMRs). This means the IRA will possibly become a game changer for Washington’s participation in the new energy economy……………………

the IRA will have profound effects on South Korean nuclear energy and reactor companies, because they are in a better position to become one of the top beneficiaries of the act,” a trade ministry official said by telephone.

The Yoon Suk Yeol administration has scrapped the former Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear phase-out policy based on the view that nuclear power is essential for the long-term sustainability of South Korea’s economy and its nuclear power industry. There are hopes that Yoon might reach a consensus with his U.S. counterpart on the sidelines of the Korean leader’s scheduled state-visit to the White House in late April to expand the Washington-Seoul alliance in the area of SMRs, industry sources told The Korea Times………….

U.S.-based Westinghouse and KEPCO, alongside KEPCO’s subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), are involved in negotiations over their legal dispute after the U.S. company filed a lawsuit against KHNP in a U.S. federal court to block it from selling reactors to Poland. KEPCO and its subsidiary, KHNP, have been accused of infringing on Westinghouse’s intellectual property rights and Washington’s nuclear export controls.

“Reaching a settlement is highly likely before Yoon’s visit to the U.S. Westinghouse and KEPCO, along with KHNP, have until March 17 this year to address their legal issues. As nuclear technologies have also become a security issue, all parties involved in the legal dispute will have to find a compromise under the principle of reciprocity that won’t hurt national interests,” said Seok Kwang-hoon, a senior analyst at Energy Transition Korea. Westinghouse officials were not immediately available for comment.

“Westinghouse itself has no question about the significance of its commercial partnership with South Korea given the country’s supply chains for future AP1000 nuclear reactors. That means if the ongoing settlement negotiations fail, then this will impact Seoul’s efforts to win reactor deals from Poland and the Czech Republic, the countries categorized as South Korea’s target markets. It’s a plausible idea for South Korean companies to acquire Westinghouse’s property rights,” said Kim Sang-tae, a professor of nuclear engineering at Hanyang University in Seoul.

February 27, 2023 Posted by | marketing, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea test-fires four missiles to show ability to launch nuclear attack

Guardian, 24 Feb 23,

Strategic cruise missiles hit a target after travelling 2,000km, says state media, to demonstrate ‘war posture’ of nuclear force.

North Korea test-fired four strategic cruise missiles during a drill designed to demonstrate its ability to conduct a nuclear counterattack against hostile forces, its state media said.

The exercise on Thursday involved an apparently operational strategic cruise missile unit of the Korean people’s army, which fired the four Hwasal-2 missiles in the area of Kim Chaek city, North Hamgyong province, towards the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, the news agency KCNA said. Other units conducted firepower training at hardened sites without live firing.

The four strategic cruise missiles hit a preset target after travelling the “2,000km-long [1,243-mile] elliptical and eight-shaped flight orbits for 10,208 seconds to 10,224 seconds”, the English-language report said.

The drill demonstrated “the war posture of the DPRK nuclear combat force bolstering up in every way its deadly nuclear counterattack capability against the hostile forces”, KCNA said…………………………. more

February 25, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment