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The Disastrous Downsides of South Korea Building Nuclear Weapons

38 North BY: SIEGFRIED S. HECKER, JANUARY 20, 2023

Is South Korea Willing to Lose Its World-leading Nuclear Power Program to Build the Bomb?

In a wide-ranging interview on January 11, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned Pyongyang that if North Korea’s nuclear threat continues to advance, South Korea would consider building nuclear weapons of its own or ask the United States to redeploy them on the Korean Peninsula. Although President Yoon walked back these comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, they were published in the South Korean press and reinforced by some Republic of Korea (ROK) defense analysts. Cheon Seong-whun said, “President Yoon’s comment could turn out to be a watershed moment in the history of South Korea’s national security.”

A South Korean decision to build its own bomb could, indeed, be a watershed. Threatening Pyongyang does little besides give it a stronger justification to enhance its own nuclear arsenal. I believe that such a move would trigger a tsunami that would wipe out Seoul’s remarkable economic miracle and destroy the soft power it has established around the world……………………….

The National Burden of a Nuclear Arsenal

Whereas President Yoon’s comment, “…we can have our own nuclear weapons pretty quickly, given our scientific and technological capabilities” is true, it doesn’t come close to capturing the national redirection, expense, and immense burden that Seoul would have to shoulder to field not just one bomb, but a nuclear arsenal to counter Pyongyang’s.

It is true that with its advanced technological capabilities, South Korea could probably build the bomb quickly. But a few bombs don’t make a nuclear deterrent, particularly if Seoul will have to go it alone. And let’s be clear, if Seoul were to go down this path, Washington could, and likely would, withdraw its nuclear umbrella. Building a nuclear arsenal to counter Pyongyang’s would require a major national redirection of its economy and diplomacy that would negatively affect nearly all facets of South Korean life for decades.

For nearly fifty years, South Korea has pursued a civilian nuclear energy program. It wisely focused on the middle of the fuel cycle—that is, reactor fuel fabrication, reactor construction and operation, and electricity production. It has built neither enrichment nor reprocessing facilities. Consequently, South Korea has no inventory of bomb-grade plutonium or uranium currently stockpiled. To build nuclear weapons, it would have to repurpose some of its civilian reactors to produce the plutonium bomb fuel (combined with using its laboratory-scale pyroprocessing facilities to extract plutonium) or construct a centrifuge facility to make highly enriched uranium. Either path would take at least two years to produce enough bomb fuel for even a few bombs. In the longer term, an effective nuclear deterrent would require new, dedicated nuclear weapons facilities, requiring substantial time and financial commitments.

The next step in building a bomb is weaponization—that is, designing, building and testing the nuclear devices. South Korea could surely master all scientific and engineering challenges of building a bomb—as it has demonstrated so convincingly in mastering civilian nuclear power generation. Some of the purely military aspects could be accomplished in concert with its conventional military technical complex. But to prove the design and fabrication, there would need to be nuclear testing, but where? Neighboring countries—China and Japan—would certainly object strongly, and there would undoubtedly be strong domestic opposition to tests from every South Korean province.

The nuclear warheads will also have to be integrated into delivery vehicles—such as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, submarine-launched missiles or bombers. South Korea has all the basic building blocks, but it would still have substantial work to do to integrate the nuclear warheads into the delivery systems. Moreover, these requirements will continue to evolve as North Korea upgrades its offensive and defensive capabilities. The assembly, disassembly and fielding of nuclear devices pose serious safety and security risks and would have to be learned without help or advice from current nuclear powers. Seoul will also have to develop a command-and-control structure that is more stringent than anything it has done so far for its conventional military.

Another consequence of building a nuclear arsenal is that it will compete for resources—financial, personnel, and technical—with the South’s conventional military…………………………………………………………………………

Seoul Would Deal a Serious Blow to the Nonproliferation Regime

South Korea would be the first democratic country to withdraw from the NPT, dealing a blow to decades of US leadership in preventing nuclear proliferation. As serious as the North Korean nuclear threat is, I believe Washington would have no choice but to condemn and counter the South’s decision to build the bomb. The nonproliferation regime is a complex fabric of treaties, agreements, assurances, practices, and international organizations. North Korea’s bomb and Iran’s pursuit of the bomb have already stressed the regime. The negative impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are playing out now. South Korea should not join these countries in undermining the regime……………………………………………………………

Shooting Itself in the Foot

South Korea’s decision to build the bomb will be widely condemned…………………………..

The irony is that an indigenous nuclear arsenal will make South Korea less secure. It is likely to draw an escalatory response from the North, and Seoul may then have to face that threat on its own. ………………………………. more https://www.38north.org/2023/01/the-disastrous-downsides-of-south-korea-building-nuclear-weapons/

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January 22, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The US has a new nuclear proliferation problem: South Korea

The US has a new nuclear proliferation problem: South Korea. Last week,
Seoul officially put its nuclear option on the table, for the first time
since 1991. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declared the country would
consider building its own arsenal of nuclear weapons if the threat it faces
from nuclear-armed North Korea continues to grow. It will.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 19th Jan 2023

January 21, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korea keen to market nuclear technology to United Arab Emirates, and missile technology, too.

South Korea president, in UAE, backs return to nuclear power

MRO, ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) 16 Jan 23, – South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Monday that his nation’s efforts to be carbon neutral by 2050 would rely in part on returning to nuclear power, even though his predecessor had tried to move away from atomic power.

Yoon’s comments at a summit in the United Arab Emirates, made in front of the country’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, served to underline Seoul’s commitment to nuclear power as it works to finish the Arabian Peninsula’s first atomic power plant. That could see South Korea in line for lucrative maintenance contracts and future projects in the UAE, which Seoul has grown closer to over recent years.

Yoon’s predecessor, President Moon Jae-in, sought to move South Korea away from nuclear power amid safety and graft scandals and Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster………..

Yoon traveled later Monday to the Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi’s far western desert near Saudi Arabia with Sheikh Mohammed before a planned business summit back in the capital.

On his arrival back, Yoon told the summit that, using the Barakah plant as an example, he hoped the Emirates and South Korea could expand this “new model of cooperation” to include nuclear fuel, small reactors and other joint advances to third countries…….

Yoon’s embrace of nuclear power also provides a guarantee of sorts that South Korea remains invested in servicing the Barakah plant. France, also home to nuclear power plants and another Emirati business and military ally, has sought contracts here as well.

Already, Yoon’s four-day trip the UAE has seen a promise from Sheikh Mohammed to invest some $30 billion in the country. Heavyweight business leaders from Hyundai, Samsung and other companies also are taking part in the state visit.

On Sunday, Yoon also visited South Korean special forces stationed in the United Arab Emirates, a murky deployment that grew out of Seoul’s deal over the nuclear power plant. The Akh unit is comprised of some 150 troops………..

Already, the Emiratis have paid $3.5 billion for the Cheongung II, or “Heaven’s Bow,” surface-to-air missile system from South Korea ….  https://www.mromagazine.com/2023/01/16/south-korea-president-in-uae-backs-return-to-nuclear-power/

January 17, 2023 Posted by | marketing, South Korea | Leave a comment

Team Korea to bolster exports of nuclear energy systems

Korea Times, By Lee Kyung-min, 13 Jan 23,

State-run energy companies and private firms in the nuclear energy industry will join hands to advance exports of the stable and affordable power generation systems, the energy ministry said following a meeting attended by officials from the sector, Friday.


The Korea-developed APR1400, a nuclear reactor with a capacity of 1,400 megawatts, is increasingly recognized by its industry peers for its cost, quality and technological advantages.

Communication channels will be strengthened with the Czech Republic, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, to win orders to build nuclear reactors there. Also fortified will be government assistance to foster industries related to nuclear power generation equipment manufacturing, as well as facility safety and maintenance.

Second Vice Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Park Il-jun presided over the meeting attended by members of Team Korea, a task force established to facilitate the export of the country’s nuclear reactors, at InterContinental Seoul COEX, southern Seoul.


In attendance were Korea Power Corp. (KEPCO) and its power subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) as well as KEPCO affiliates…………….. https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2023/01/419_343553.html

January 15, 2023 Posted by | marketing, South Korea | Leave a comment

In a first, South Korea declares nuclear weapons a policy option

Japan Times, BY CHOE SANG-HUN, THE NEW YORK TIMES 13 Jan 23,

SEOUL – South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said for the first time Wednesday that if North Korea’s nuclear threat grows, South Korea would consider building nuclear weapons of its own or ask the United States to redeploy them on the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking during a joint policy briefing by his defense and foreign ministries Wednesday, Yoon was quick to add that building nuclear weapons was not yet an official policy. He stressed that South Korea would for now deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat by strengthening its alliance with the United States………………….

“It’s possible that the problem gets worse and our country will introduce tactical nuclear weapons or build them on our own,” said Yoon, according to a transcript of his comments released by his office. “If that’s the case, we can have our own nuclear weapons pretty quickly, given our scientific and technological capabilities.”

South Korea is a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, which bans the country from seeking nuclear weapons. It also signed a joint declaration with North Korea in 1991 in which both Koreas agreed not to “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.”

But North Korea has reneged on the agreement by conducting six nuclear tests since 2006. …………………………………..

“If South Korea ​possesses ​nuclear weapons, the United States will not need to ask whether it should use its ​own ​nuclear weapons to defend its ally​,​ and the alliance will never be put to a test,” said Cheong Seong-chang,​ a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea. “If South Korea owns nuclear weapons, the U.S. will actually become safer.”……………………….

South Korea would need to quit the NPT to build its own arsenal. Analysts said that quitting the NPT would be too risky for the South​ because it could trigger international sanctions​. ​

Some lawmakers affiliated with Yoon’s party and analysts like Cheon want the United States to reintroduce U.S. nuclear weapons​ to the South and forge a nuclear-sharing agreement with Seoul, similar to the one in which NATO aircraft would be allowed to carry U.S. nuclear weapons in wartime……………………………….

more https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/01/13/asia-pacific/south-korea-nuclear-weapons-policy/

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

US and South Korea hold talks on “nuclear sharing”.

the US Council for Foreign Relations highlighted a proposal to establish an Asian Nuclear Planning Group, “mirroring the format of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group, that would provide a platform for South Korea, Japan, and Australia to discuss policies regarding US nuclear forces and the US nuclear planning process.”

What is underway not just in South Korea are high level discussions to integrate US allies throughout the region with the US military as preparations accelerate for a potentially catastrophic war with China that would inevitably involve the use of nuclear weapons.

Peter Symond WSWS 5 Jan 23

The US and South Korea are actively discussing closer collaboration in the deployment and potential use of nuclear weapons, which is part of the far broader US-led military build-up throughout the region. While nominally directed against North Korea, US war preparations including with South Korea are above all aimed at China.

In an interview in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper on Monday, South Korea’s right-wing president, Yoon Suk Yeol, said the discussions had focussed on joint planning and exercises with American nuclear forces. He described the arrangements being discussed as being “as good as nuclear-sharing”—a phrase, he said, that Washington was uncomfortable with……….

When asked at the White House whether joint nuclear military exercises with South Korea were being planned, President Biden flatly declared “no” and made no further comment. However, subsequent comments by American officials make clear that the closer integration of South Korea into US preparations for nuclear war is indeed under way……………………….

The discussions mark a significant escalation in the preparations for nuclear war. While South Korea, a US military ally, was protected by the so-called nuclear umbrella or what is known as “extended deterrence,” Yoon is pushing for a greater South Korean say in the use of nuclear weapons.

In his interview, Yoon declared: “What we call ‘extended deterrence’ means that the United States will take care of everything, so South Korea should not worry about it… But now, it is difficult to convince our people with just this idea.”…………….

Throughout much of the Cold War, the US had hundreds of tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea supposedly to counter a North Korean invasion. The number peaked at 950 during the mid-1960s before declining. In 1991, amid the moves to dissolve the Soviet Union, US President George H.W. Bush announced the return of all tactical nuclear weapons to the US, including those that remained in South Korea.

While Yoon has not publicly repeated his proposals as president, there have already been significant steps to a greater US nuclear presence in South Korea. In a joint press conference last November, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-seop announced plans for the de facto permanent stationing of US nuclear-capable assets in South Korea for the first time since 1991………….

As far as Washington is concerned, the North Korean “threat” is a convenient pretext as its nuclear planning is primarily focussed on war with China. Strategically located close to the Chinese mainland, South Korea is deeply integrated into the US strategy for such a conflict. Not only does it house key US military bases and some 28,500 military personnel but it also has a key anti-ballistic missile system—a recently upgraded Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system—critical in any nuclear conflict.

The US is boosting its nuclear weapons capacity throughout the region with the announcement last year that it will effectively station nuclear-capable B-52 bombers at the Tindal air force base in Northern Australia. At the same time, prior to his assassination last July, former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, initiated a discussion in ruling circles about stationing US nuclear weapons in Japan, despite enormous popular opposition to such a move.

The Biden administration has already taken steps to strengthen its military alliances in the Indo-Pacific by kickstarting the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or “Quad” with Japan, Australia and India as well as initiating the AUKUS pact with Australia and the United Kingdom, which, in particular, will arm Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines. At the same time, it has sought to strengthen intelligence sharing between South Korea and Japan, essential in any nuclear conflict.

Broader “nuclear sharing” is also being discussed in US strategic think tanks. A comment published last August by the US Council for Foreign Relations highlighted a proposal to establish an Asian Nuclear Planning Group, “mirroring the format of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group, that would provide a platform for South Korea, Japan, and Australia to discuss policies regarding US nuclear forces and the US nuclear planning process.”

What is underway not just in South Korea are high level discussions to integrate US allies throughout the region with the US military as preparations accelerate for a potentially catastrophic war with China that would inevitably involve the use of nuclear weapons. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/05/tzjb-j05.html

January 5, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment

South Korea asks US for greater role in managing nuclear weapons

AFR, Sangmi Cha, Jan 2, 2023,

Seoul | South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said his government was in talks with the US on taking a more active role in managing nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, which would mark a significant shift in a decades-old policy among American allies to deter North Korea.

“While the nuclear weapons belong to the US, intel sharing, planning, and training should be done jointly,” Mr Yoon told South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper. “The US’ stance is quite positive,” he added, saying the policy should be conducted under the concept of “joint planning and joint exercise”.

He said the strategy of “nuclear umbrella”, or “extended deterrence”, was no longer reassuring for the public now that North Korea had developed nuclear weapons and a range of missiles to deliver them.

Since taking power last May, Mr Yoon has sought to put South Korea on a path of overwhelming military strength against North Korea, which has launched scores of missiles in defiance of United Nations resolutions and is preparing for another nuclear test………………………… more https://www.afr.com/world/asia/south-korea-asks-us-for-greater-role-in-managing-nuclear-weapons-20230102-p5c9wu

January 3, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Poland, South Korea sign outline accords on nuclear power project

Aljazeera 31 Oct 22

South Korea and Poland to assess the viability of building four 1,400-megawatt nuclear reactors in Patnow.

Seoul and Warsaw have signed outline agreements to develop nuclear power in Poland, according to ministries from both countries, as Poland strives to phase out coal and lower its carbon emissions and South Korea seeks to revive its nuclear industry.

Poland’s ZE PAK and PGE and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) will assess the viability of building four 1,400-megawatt nuclear reactors in Patnow, central Poland, using South Korean technology, the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on Monday in a joint statement with the Polish Ministry of State Assets.

The companies, with government backing, intend to prepare a preliminary development plan for the plant by the end of this year, they said in a statement.

Since the election this year of President Yoon Suk-yeol, who pledged to revive the country’s nuclear power industry, South Korea has stepped up efforts to win nuclear power plant export orders……………………

Monday’s agreements follow an announcement on Friday when Warsaw said US firm Westinghouse Electric Co will build the country’s first nuclear power plant in northern Poland.  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/10/31/poland-south-korea-sign-outline-accords-on-nuclear-power-project

November 1, 2022 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

US-S.Korea to stage joint military drills with nuclear-powered US carrier

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220926_01 26 Sept 22, The United States and South Korea are set to begin joint military exercises in the Sea of Japan on Monday, with the participation of a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier.

The drills, involving a strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan, will continue through Thursday.

The US highlighted the carrier’s deployment near the Korean Peninsula as part of its efforts to boost deterrence against North Korea in a meeting of senior foreign and defense officials from Washington and Seoul earlier this month.

The South Korean government stressed that Seoul and Washington will strengthen their joint defense capabilities and reconfirm their strong resolve to neutralize any forms of missile provocations by Pyongyang.

North Korea criticized South Korea for working with the US to beef up deterrence. Pyongyang said on a state-run website on Sunday that plots for war provocations will only create dreadful destruction.

North Korea on the same day launched a short-range ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan from an area in or around Taechon, North Phyongan Province. The missile is estimated to have landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

North Korea also appears to be preparing to fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, in the city of Sinpho in the eastern province of South Hamgyong.

Washington and Seoul remain on alert for possible further missile launches and other provocations by Pyongyang as North Korea is expected to sharply react to the US-South Korea joint drills.

September 26, 2022 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Super Typhoon Hinnamnor Could Slam Straight Into Nuclear Power Plant

https://www.newsweek.com/typhoon-hinnamnor-south-korea-kori-nuclear-power-plant-1739947 BY JESS THOMSON ON 9/5/22

The most powerful storm in South Korean history is due to collide with a nuclear power plant.

According to the South Korea Meteorological Administration, Super Typhoon Hinnamnor is due to hit on September 6, and may cause multiple casualties. Kori Nuclear Power Plant, which is in the oncoming path of the Category 5 storm near to industrial city Ulsan, has lowered the run rates of three of its nuclear reactors to less than 30 percent in preparation for the typhoon, according to EnergyVoice.

“We’re now entering a phase where we have to minimize casualties,” Han Sang Un, the chief forecaster at Korea Meteorological Administration, said during a briefing on September 5.

“It’s a massive typhoon with a 400-kilometer (248.5 miles) radius, which is big enough to cover Seoul to Busan. Most regions in Korea will experience intense rain and wind,” he said.

Typhoon Sarah, which hit South Korea in 1959, and Typhoon Maemi, which hit in 2003, are thought to be two of the most powerful storms in the nation’s history. Hinnamnor is forecasted to be potentially more powerful. As of September 5, the storm has wind speeds of 127 miles per hour (mph) with gusts around 155 mph, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

“Super typhoons are defined as a typhoon in the NW Pacific Ocean basin with 1-minute sustained winds of at least 130 kts (150 mph), which is equivalent to a strong Category 4 or Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale,” Dr. Adam Lea, a senior research associate in hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones for University College London’s Department of Space & Climate Physics, told Newsweek.

“The overall diameter of the storm can be hundreds of km but the very damaging winds are confined to a much smaller region surrounding the eye called the eye wall, which is a ring of thunderstorms surrounding the eye where the most extreme conditions occur. This area typically extends to 100km [around 60 miles] from the eye. Hinnamnor is one of the larger typhoons with typhoon force winds extending up to around 140km [around 85 miles] from the center.”

The Kori Nuclear Power Plant, which is in the path of the storm, may therefore be at risk if the typhoon hits it at full power.

Natural disasters of this kind are historically very bad news for power plants: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan was severely damaged by a tsunami caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011, leading to some 150,000 people to be evacuated from the communities close to the disaster site.

According to Lea, a super typhoon hitting land at peak intensity would cause extreme to catastrophic damage to most buildings not built to resist such winds.

However, typhoon Hinnamnor has weakened considerably from its peak intensity.

“I am not knowledgeable on nuclear power plants, but the buildings are very sturdily constructed and will withstand the winds comfortably,” he said. “In advance of typhoon Maemi in 2003, five nuclear plants were shut down automatically and were ultimately unaffected.”

The typhoon is forecasted by the South Korea Meteorological Administration to hit the resort island of Jeju at about 1 a.m. local time on September 6, and southern coastal cities including Ulsan and Busan at about 7 a.m. Residents have been advised to remain indoors, and according to Bloomberg, 200 residents in coastal areas of Busan have been asked to evacuate to shelters on September 5.

September 6, 2022 Posted by | climate change, safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

S Korea signs $2.25 billion deal with Russia nuclear company

By KIM TONG-HYUNG, August 26, 2022

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has signed a 3 trillion won ($2.25 billion) contract with a Russian state-run nuclear energy company to provide components and construct turbine buildings for Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, officials said Thursday.

The South Koreans hailed the deal as a triumph for their nuclear power industry, although it made for awkward optics as their American allies push an economic pressure campaign to isolate Russia over its war on Ukraine.

South Korean officials said the United States was consulted in advance about the deal and that the technologies being supplied by Seoul for the project would not clash with international sanctions against Russia.

According to South Korea’s presidential office and trade ministry, the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power was subcontracted by Russia’s Atomstroyexport to provide certain materials and equipment and construct turbine buildings and other structures at the plant being built in Dabaa. The Mediterranean coastal town is about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Cairo.

Atomstroyexport, also called ASE, is a subsidiary of Rosatom, a state-owned Russian nuclear conglomerate. The company has a contract with Egypt to deliver four 1,200 megawatt reactors through 2030. Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power’s part of project is from 2023 to 2029…………….. https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-middle-east-africa-349bf2b3eb2551bdea5ec886855dea92

August 26, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Resistance by local population thwarts the development of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) in South Korea

“The plan to normalize the operation of the THAAD base, even though the environmental impact assessment has not yet started, means that the government does not even consider a due legal process,”

Tensions mount as gov’t moves to normalize THAAD base operation.  https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20220824006000315 August 24, 2022

SEONGJU, South Korea, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) — Tensions are mounting around a U.S. THAAD missile defense unit here, one week ahead of the government’s deadline for normalizing access to the base despite local residents’ opposition.

The Seoul government has pledged to secure unfettered road access to the base in Seongju, around 220 kilometers south of Seoul, by the end of August, as its operation has been hindered by anti-THAAD protesters attempting to block deliveries of goods and equipment to the unit.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system was installed in the southeastern county in 2017 to cope with North Korea’s missile threats.

But the battery has not been running at full capacity, with access restricted to the unit due to protesters and a pending environmental impact assessment.

SEONGJU, South Korea, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) — Tensions are mounting around a U.S. THAAD missile defense unit here, one week ahead of the government’s deadline for normalizing access to the base despite local residents’ opposition.

The Seoul government has pledged to secure unfettered road access to the base in Seongju, around 220 kilometers south of Seoul, by the end of August, as its operation has been hindered by anti-THAAD protesters attempting to block deliveries of goods and equipment to the unit.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system was installed in the southeastern county in 2017 to cope with North Korea’s missile threats.

But the battery has not been running at full capacity, with access restricted to the unit due to protesters and a pending environmental impact assessment.

This May 18, 2021, file photo shows a water truck moving on a road leading to the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) base in Seongju, 217 kilometers south of Seoul, after police dispersed demonstrators opposing the delivery of daily necessities for troops at the missile defense system’s base. (Yonhap)hide caption

Local residents and activists object to the deployment of the THAAD system due to concerns about possible hazards to human health and the environment.

Since May 2021, the remodeling of barracks at the base has been under way and construction materials, workers and daily necessities have been brought to the base by trucks two to three times a week.

Clashes have often occurred in the area between police and demonstrators occupying the road to block deliveries.

Residents and activists are set to step up protests in response to the government’s plan to provide normal overland access to the base by the end of August.

They also plan to hold a joint rally with other organizations in front of the base on Sept. 3, demanding the military halt the construction.

“The plan to normalize the operation of the THAAD base, even though the environmental impact assessment has not yet started, means that the government does not even consider a due legal process,” the task force of anti-THAAD residents and activists said.

The local government has yet to form a group to conduct the environmental impact survey, which is necessary for the THAAD unit to operate at full capacity, due to the resistance from the residents.

“There are no residents willing to participate in the assessment body,” ,” a county official said. “It is difficult for us to persuade the residents, who have been opposed to the base for many years, to join the team.”

August 23, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korean unionists protest US-South Korea war games

Saturday, 13 August 2022, Frank Smith, Press TV, Seoul

Thousands of South Korean unionists and their progressive supporters rallied in downtown Seoul to protest against joint US-South Korea war games planned for later this month.

The drills will be the largest in years, and follow the May election of President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has promised to take a hardline with North Korea. Union leaders worry about risks.

While many South Koreans, especially supporters of President Yoon on the right, favor close ties with the U.S., large numbers also argue the US military and the country’s alliance with Washington, prevent the improvement of ties with North Korea – and generate tension…………….. more https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/08/13/687322/South-Korean-unionists-protest-US-South-Korea-war-games

August 20, 2022 Posted by | employment, opposition to nuclear, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fukushima water dumping plan triggers fresh anger from South Korea

As water-dumping moves advance, S. Koreans seek firm regional stance,  http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202208/09/WS62f1be52a310fd2b29e7119d.html By YANG HAN in Hong Kong |2022-08-09

Japan’s plan to dump radioactive wastewater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant will endanger the lives of people in the Asia-Pacific region, say experts who want to see stepped-up efforts against the ocean disposal from the countries most at risk.

South Koreans have been among those expressing their opposition to the plan, and voices have again been raised after Japan moved a step closer to implementing its planned discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water from next year, following the recent approval of the plan’s details by the nation’s nuclear regulator.

“The discharge of wastewater from Fukushima is an act of contaminating the Pacific Ocean as well as the sea area of South Korea,” said Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, an advocacy group in Seoul.

“Many people in South Korea believe that Japan’s discharge of the Fukushima wastewater is a wrong policy that threatens the safety of both the sea and humans,” Ahn told China Daily.

Last month, Japan’s nuclear regulator approved the plan to discharge wastewater into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, after it built up a huge amount of radiation-tainted water. The water has been collected and stored in tanks following efforts to cool down the reactors after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011.

The dumping plan has drawn fierce opposition from government officials and civic groups in South Korea, one of the world’s major consumers of seafood.

On Aug 1, South Korea’s Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Cho Seunghwan said the government is considering whether to take the issue to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Yonhap News Agency reported. Cho said the government’s primary plan is to prevent Japan from releasing the contaminated water. “We do not accept the release plan”, he said.

Ahn said radioactive materials can generate long-term effects and it remains unclear how they will affect the marine ecosystem.

Though the South Korean government is considering taking the issue to the international tribunal, Ahn said it will be difficult to quantify the potential damage.

South Korea has said it will conduct a thorough analysis and revision of the impact of Japan’s plan, but the government has not received enough data from Japan to conduct such research, South Korea’s Hankyoreh newspaper reported in June.

After Japan’s nuclear regulator approved the Fukushima discharge plan, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said Tokyo needs to transparently explain and gain consent from neighboring countries before releasing the contaminated water.

Potential impact

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, said the environmental group is concerned about the potential impact of the water’s release on the wider Asia-Pacific region.

The level of exposure depends on multiple variables including the concentration in seawater and how quickly it concentrates, disperses and dilutes, forms of life, and the type of radionuclide released and how that disperses or concentrates as it moves through the environment, Burnie said.

“The concentrations are of direct relevance to those who may consume them, including marine species like fish and, ultimately, humans,” Burnie told China Daily.

Noting that the Fukushima contaminated water issue comes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as it is a form of pollution to international waters, Burnie said there are strong grounds for individual countries to file a legal challenge against Japan’s plan.

Ahn said joint expressions of opposition in the region could force the Japanese government to choose a safe method to deal with the wastewater instead of dumping it into the sea. China is also among the neighboring countries that have voiced opposition to the Fukushima discharge plan.

August 8, 2022 Posted by | Japan, oceans, South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Weapons Policies of Japan and South Korea Challenged

By Jaya Ramachandran, GENEVA (IDN)31 July 22, — The Basel Peace Office, in cooperation with other civil society organisations, has challenged the nuclear weapons policies of Japan and South Korea in the UN Human Rights Council, maintaining that these violate the Right to Life, a right enshrined in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The two East Asian countries’ nuclear strategies have been called into question in reports submitted on July 14 as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the obligations of Japan, South Korea and 12 other countries under human rights treaties. (See Submission on Japan and Submission on South Korea).

The submissions, presented at a time when Russia has made nuclear threats to the US and NATO if they intervene in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, underline the need to address the risks of nuclear deterrence policies. Besides, Russia is not the only country that possesses nuclear weapons and/or maintains options to initiate nuclear war………………

 both Japan and South Korea are engaged in extended nuclear deterrence policies which involve the threat or use of US nuclear weapons on their behalf in an armed conflict. Both have also supported the option of first use of nuclear weapons on their behalf, even when the United States has been trying to step back from such a policy.

The Basel Peace Office and other civil society organisations argue that the extended nuclear deterrence policies of Japan and South Korea violate their human rights obligations, as is their lack of support for negotiations for comprehensive, global nuclear disarmament.

The submissions make several recommendations of policies the governments could take to conform to the Right to Life. These include adopting no-first-use policies and taking measures to phase out the role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines.

This they could do by establishing a Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and urging at the ongoing Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference an agreement on the global elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 75th anniversary of the NPT………………………..
more https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/armaments/nuclear-weapons/5487-nuclear-weapons-policies-of-japan-and-south-korea-challenged

July 31, 2022 Posted by | Japan, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment