The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

President Moon says No to nuclear weapons in South Korea

No nuclear weapons in South Korea, says President Moon, By Paula Hancocks and James Griffiths, CNN September 14, 2017 

Story highlights


September 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korean opposition party in USA asking Washington for nuclear weapons

A South Korean delegation asks Washington for nuclear weapons, WP,  September 14, 17The heated debate in South Korea over redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory has now reached Washington. A senior delegation of South Korean lawmakers is in town making the case to the Trump administration and Congress that such a move is needed to confront North Korea’s growing nuclear capability and place more pressure on China.

“We are here to ask for redeployment of tactical nuclear warheads in South Korea,” Lee Cheol Woo, the head of the intelligence committee of South Korea’s National Assembly, told me Thursday morning.

Lee is heading a delegation of members of the Liberty Korea Party, the opposition to President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party. He is also the chairman of the assembly’s special committee for nuclear crisis response.

Moon told CNN yesterday that he does not agree that tactical nuclear weapons should be reintroduced to South Korea or that Seoul should develop its own nuclear weapons. He warned it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.” But Lee’s delegation believes that as the North Korea nuclear crisis worsens, a push by the Trump administration or Congress could help persuade Moon’s government to change its position, as it has already done regarding the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system……

September 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA to increase the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea

MINISTRY: MORE THAAD LAUNCHERS TO BE DEPLOYED THURSDAY,,  Floyd Cook 10 Sept 17, South Korea says the US military will begin adding more launchers to a contentious high-tech USA missile defense system in South Korea on Thursday to better cope with North Korean threats.

The deployment of THAAD is of great concern to China. On Tuesday, Seoul Administrative Court has dismissed the claim of Seongju residents to suspend the government’s decision to allocate land for the THAAD missile system. Seoul’s Defense Ministry has said the USA military will begin installing the additional launchers Thursday.

Local residents worry about rumored health hazards related to the system’s high-powered radars and the possibility of being targeted in North Korean attacks.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the five-year-old South Korea-U.S. (KORUS) FTA as a frightful deal for creating a $27 billion U.S. trade deficit with South Korea last year. In August, about 900 people from the county shaved their heads to protest the government’s decision……..

Moscow has repeatedly opposed the THAAD deployment, as it could further deteriorate the nuclear crisis and provoke North Korean aggression.

Beijing has objected to the advanced anti-missile battery high-resolution radar system that can potentially monitor China’s military activities as a threat to its security, and had reportedly imposed informal restrictions on selected South Korean imports and tourism as retaliation.

A THAAD battery normally consists of six launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptor missiles, but only two launchers been operational at the site, on a former golf course.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive particles from North Korea nuclear tests now found in South Korea’s air, land and water

South Korea detects radioactive material following North Korean nuclear test,, September 08, 2017 Traces of radioactive material were detected in South Korea by the nation’s nuclear safety agency Friday, less than a week after North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test.

South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission discovered trace amounts of xenon gas, a radionuclide, in an analysis of samples from the air, ground and water collected following North Korea’s nuclear test, according to Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea defied international warnings Sunday, conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test. The country said it detonated a hydrogen bomb that can fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile. South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Thursday he expects its neighbor to launch a missile Saturday while celebrating its founding day. North Korea has already fired 21 missiles this year.

The radioactive material’s inflow is still being tracked to determine definitively if it came from the nuclear test, according to the agency.

The agency added the level of radioactive material detected in the analysis is not enough to cause any effects on South Koreans’ health.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | radiation, South Korea | 1 Comment

Tension increased as USA and South Korea deploy more fire power on the Korean Peninsula

Allies seek to deploy aircraft carrier, strategic bomber in response to N.K. nuke test, Yonhap News, 2017-09- SEOUL, Sept. 4  — South Korea and the United States will seek to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, strategic bombers and other powerful assets to the Korean Peninsula as a response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test, Seoul’s defense ministry said Monday.

In its report to the National Assembly’s defense committee, the ministry also said that its military will stage a unilateral live-fire drill, which involves Taurus air-to-surface guided missiles mounted on its F-15K fighter jets, this month. The missile with a range of 500 kilometers is capable of launching precision strikes on the North’s key nuclear and missile facilities.

“We will push for the option of deploying strategic assets such as the U.S. carrier strike group and strategic bombers after consultation with the U.S.,” the ministry said.

The show-of-force measures were unveiled a day after Pyongyang conducted what it claims to be a test of a hydrogen bomb mountable onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, sharply raising military tensions.

At the parliamentary session, Defense Minister Song Young-moo said that during his recent talks with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, he demanded that the U.S. deploy its strategic assets to Korea on a “regular” basis. He made the demand, citing local politicians’ calls for the redeployment of U.S. tactical nukes.

But he dismissed the news report that he actually demanded the redeployment of the U.S. nuclear arsenal withdrawn from the peninsula in the early 1990s…….

September 6, 2017 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Heavier warheads and lots more USA weapons sales to South Korea

S.Korea, US to lift warhead weight limit on South Korean missiles | 04 Sept 2017 | The US agreed to allow South Korea deploy heavier warheads on its missiles after the latest nuclear test by Pyongyang. The existing limit set in a missile pact between Washington and Seoul is 500 kg. The agreement to lift the weight limit was reached by US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in a phone call on Monday, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement. With tensions rising on the Korean peninsula, Donald Trump also gave “conceptual approval” for billions worth of US weapons to be sold to South Korea. 

September 6, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump is considering abandoning trade agreement with South Korea – (strange timing!)

Amid Nuclear Tensions, Trump Mulls Exit From South Korea Trade Deal, NYT,  SEPT. 2, 2017, WASHINGTON — President Trump is considering pulling out of a major trade agreement with South Korea as he tries to fulfill get-tough campaign pledges on international trade. But he has not yet made a final decision, two senior administration officials said Saturday.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment

Tactical nuclear weapons for South Korea: U.S. and South Korean defense leaders considering this

The subject was said broached during the first day of SK Defense Minister’s visit to US

The South Korean and US defense leaders discussed the issue of deploying tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula during their meeting on Aug. 30, according to sources.

This marks the first official confirmation of discussions on the tactical nuclear weapon issue between top-level South Korean and US government figures. Critics are calling the discussions a hasty move that could fuel political controversy and confuse the issue of Seoul’s stated opposition to tactical nuclear weapons.

South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo met with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Pentagon on Aug. 30 and broached the tactical nuclear weapon deployment issue during discussions on amending the South Korea-US missile guidelines, a senior government official reported.

The official remained quiet on the details, saying only that “the tactical nuclear weapon deployment issue was discussed, but it wasn’t anything specific.”

The redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons has become a heated political issue, with conservative parties strongly calling for it as a response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations. It’s also an incendiary issue with bearing on the peninsula’s denuclearization………

Song arrived in the US for a five-day visit on Aug. 29.

By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer and Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

September 2, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As USA and South Korea hold military exercises on Korean peninsula, Russia flies nuclear bombers around the peninsula

Russian nuclear bombers fly near North Korea in rare show of force,, Andrew Osborn, 25 Aug 17,  Moscow, Reuters, Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers have flown a rare mission around the Korean Peninsula at the same time as the United States and South Korea conduct joint military exercises that have infuriated Pyongyang.

Russia, which has said it is strongly against any unilateral U.S. military action on the peninsula, said Tupolev-95MS bombers, code named “Bears” by NATO, had flown over the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, prompting Japan and Seoul to scramble jets to escort them.

The flight, which also included planes with advanced intelligence gathering capabilities, was over international waters and was announced by the Russian Defence Ministry on the same day as Moscow complained about the U.S.-South Korean war games.

“The US and South Korea holding yet more large-scale military and naval exercises does not help reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, told a news briefing in Moscow.

“We urge all sides to exercise maximum caution. Given the arms build-up in the region, any rash move or even an unintended incident could spark a military conflict.”

August 25, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, Russia, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The USA- South Korea war games begin on the Korean Peninsula

US-South Korea begin wargames,  23 Aug 17  The United States and South Korea have kicked off their annual military exercise, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

The wargames use computer simulations to prepare for conflict with nuclear-capable North Korea.

Troops from seven allied nations, including Britain, Canada and Australia, are also taking part.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in denied Pyongyang’s accusation that the drills are a rehearsal for an invasion.

“This year’s Ulchi exercise is to check the defensive postures of our civilians, government and military to secure the lives and safety of our people”, Moon said at a cabinet meeting. “It is an annual exercise of a defensive nature, and there is no intention of heightening military tensions on the Korean Peninsula”.

Peace activists in Seoul protested the decision to go ahead with the drill, concerned it could trigger retaliation by North Korea. Pyongyang last week appeared to back down from a threat to launch a missile strike on the US territory of Guam.

China has also urged Washington to scrap the ten-day-long exercise.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA persists with war drills with South Korea

US refuses to pause drills despite North’s vow of ‘merciless retaliation’ AUGUST 23, 2017, SEOUL — As North Korea vowed “merciless retaliation” against United States-South Korean military drills it claims are an invasion rehearsal, senior US military commanders yesterday dismissed calls to pause or downsize the exercises they said were crucial to countering a clear threat from Pyongyang.

The heated North Korean rhetoric, along with occasional weapons tests, is standard fare during the spring and summer war games by allies Seoul and Washington.

 USA persists with But uneasy ties between the Koreas are worse than normal this year following weeks of tit-for-tat threats between US President Donald Trump and Pyongyang in the wake of the North’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month.

There have been calls in both the US and South Korea to postpone or modify the drills in an attempt to ease hostility on the Korean peninsula following North Korea’s threat to fire missiles toward the US territory of Guam.

But a visiting group of senior US military commanders, including Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, said the drills are critical for the allies to maintain readiness against an aggressive North Korea.

“A strong diplomatic effort backed by a strong military effort is key because credible combat power should be in support of diplomacy and not the other way around,” Adm Harris said during a news conference at South Korea’s Osan Air Base.

General Vincent Brooks, commander of US Forces Korea, said the allies should continue the war games until they “have reason not to”. He added: “That reason has not yet emerged.”

The North Korean military said in a statement that it will launch an unspecified “merciless retaliation and unsparing punishment” on the US over the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began on Monday for an 11-day run.

Despite the threat, an unprovoked direct attack is unlikely because the US vastly outguns Pyongyang, which values the continuation of its dictatorship above all else. The impoverished North hates the drills in part because they force it to respond with expensive military measures of its own.

The North Korean statement accused the US of deploying unspecified “lethal” weapons for the drills that it says involve a “beheading operation” training aimed at removing absolute ruler Kim Jong-un.

“No one can vouch that these huge forces concentrated in South Korea will not go over to an actual war action now that the military tensions have reached an extreme pitch in the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.

“Moreover, high-ranking bosses of the US imperialist aggressor forces flew into South Korea to hold a war confab. Such huddle is increasing the gravity of the situation.” Adm Harris said yesterday it was more important to use diplomacy to counter North Korea’s missile threat rather than consider what actions by the reclusive nation might trigger a preemptive strike. “So we hope and we work for diplomatic solutions to the challenge presented by Kim Jong-un,” Adm Harris said.

When asked what actions by North Korea might trigger a preemptive US strike against Pyongyang, he added: “As far as a timeline, it would be crazy for me to share with you those tripwires in advance. If we did that, it would hardly be a military strategy.”

The Ulchi drills are largely computer-simulated war games held every summer, and this year’s exercise involves 17,500 American troops and 50,000 South Korean soldiers.

No field training like live-fire exercises or tank manoeuvring is involved in the Ulchi drills, in which alliance officers sit at computers to practise how they would engage in battles and hone their decision-making capabilities. The allies have said the drills are defensive in nature. AGENCIES

August 23, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korean President Moon Jae-in warns USA against military action on North Korea

Moon says even slight conflict on Korean Peninsula may threaten many lives, SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in again urged the United States Monday to refrain from taking any action against North Korea that could start an armed conflict on the peninsula, saying even the slightest conflict here may cost the lives of many South Koreans and U.S. troops.

“President Moon said he understands why the United States has traditionally said all options were on the table to push North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. But he said even the slightest military action will lead to a clash between the South and North, and it will threaten many lives of not only South Koreans but foreigners, including U.S. forces stationed in South Korea,” Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said at a press briefing.

Moon made the remarks at a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae with a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers including Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and two members of the House of Representatives, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ann Wagner (R-MO).

Moon’s remarks followed a heated war of words between the communist North and the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly hinted at possible military action against the reclusive North after Pyongyang said it may consider launching ballistic missiles toward the U.S.-controlled island of Guam……

“President Moon noted the need to continue sending a clear message to the North that a brighter future will be guaranteed should it choose to come to the negotiations table, while continuously increasing pressure and sanctions on the North,” the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.

Moon also stressed the importance of China’s role in bringing the North back to the dialogue table, noting Pyongyang nearly entirely depended on its major ally, Beijing, for its exports.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

US-South Korea War Games increase the tension, and risk of nuclear war – North Korea

North Korea Warns US-South Korea War Games Driving Toward ‘Uncontrollable Nuclear War‘  The North called the planned joint military exercises “reckless” and said the U.S. is “lost in a fantasy”, by Jake Johnson, staff writer

With the United States and South Korea set to begin joint military exercises on Monday—and as Trump administration officials attempt to de-escalate tensions after the president threatened to bring “fire and fury” upon North Korea—the regime of Kim Jong-un published an editorial in a state-run newspaper on Sunday calling the planned war games “reckless behavior” that is “driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of  a nuclear war.” The editorial added that the military exercises amount to “pouring gasoline on fire,” and warned that the U.S. would not be able to “dodge the merciless strike” the regime claims it is prepared to launch.

“The Korean People’s Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies,” the editorial continued. “It will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted.”

“If the U.S. is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else’s doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever,” the editorial concluded.

The U.S.-South Korea military exercises are set to last for ten days, and they will consist of 17,500 American troops and 50,000 South Korean troops. As the Associated Press noted, the drills “hold more potential to provoke than ever,” and some are calling on the U.S. and South Korea “to postpone or drastically modify drills to ease the hostility on the Korean Peninsula.

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been running high of late as the North continues to develop its nuclear capacities and as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to ratchet up tensions by responding erratically. Trump recently suggested that his “fire and fury” remarks were not “tough enough.”

As a result, a growing number of lawmakers are calling for Trump to be stripped of the “nuclear football.” “No U.S. President, certainly not Trump, should have sole authority to initiate an unprovoked nuclear war,” argued Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

According to a recent CBS News poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans are “uneasy” about Trump’s ability to deal reasonably with North Korea, and the same percentage believes that the U.S. should not be threatening Pyongyang with military action.

As Common Dreams has reported, activists and analysts have issued urgent calls for diplomacy in recent weeks as tensions continue to intensify. The failure to pursue diplomatic avenues could result in a “nuclear nightmare,” some have warned.

“Time has proven that coercion doesn’t work,” CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin recently wrote. “There’s an urgent need to hit the reset button on U.S.-Korean policy.”

August 21, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Right wing in South Korea calling for nuclear weapons

Time for nuclear balancing act?, Korea HeraldBy Yeo Jun-suk, 20 Aug 17 Calls grow in Seoul to deploy tactical atomic weapons to counter NK nuclear threats, Aug 20, 2017 Despite under a constant threat of war from the communist North Korea, South Korea has remained a nuclear weapons-free zone since 1991. But with Pyongyang nearing the finish line in its atomic weapons program, politicians and security experts in Seoul are calling for “a balancing act” to adapt to the new security environment on the Korean Peninsula: A North Korean nuclear weapon can only be deterred by a nuclear weapon — by either South Korea’s own or the US, they said.

“We can’t fight against the North with bare hands,” said Rep. Jeong Yong-ki, a spokesman for the main opposition Liberty Party Korea. “It’s time for us to be in a tit-for-tat over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”

The conservative party, who favors hardline approaches toward the North, adopted as its party platform last week a call for redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn from the peninsula in 1991.The minor conservative Bareun Party, while also advocating nuclear deterrence, floated an idea of US “sharing” its nuclear weapons with South Korea. 

As opposed to the Liberty Party’s proposal of bringing US nuclear weapons back here, the idea calls for the US granting South Korea a right to use US nuclear assets operating outside the peninsula, such as nuclear-powered submarines or fighter jets carrying nuclear bombs, when the need arises.

“Our idea allows us to have nuclear deterrence without deploying nukes here,” while avoiding possible backlashes from neighboring countries, said Rep. Ha Tae-kyung of Bareun Party.

The need for a nuclear deterrent was echoed even from a former security advisor to President Moon Jae-in, a liberal favoring re-engagement with the North and nuclear disarmament of both Koreas. …….

August 21, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cancellation of nuclear build programmes in South Korea and USA – a bad sign for Britain’s nuclear industry

US AND KOREAN NUCLEAR PLANT CANCELLATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR UK NEW NUCLEAR BUILD,  Prospec t Law August 10, 2017  The US currently has 100 nuclear power plants in operation supplying about 20% of its power needs. A further four were under construction, two each in Georgia and South Carolina, until the owners of the South Carolina plants recently announced the cancellation of construction of its two Westinghouse AP1000 units, Summer 2 and 3.

Summer 2 and 3 had been under construction since 2013, with original operational dates of late 2019 and late 2020.  However, due to construction delays and cost overruns, these were later revised to December 2022 for Summer 2 and March 2024 for Summer 3.  The finances were a key factor in the decision to cancel construction, with the original estimate of $11.5 bn having more than doubling to $25 bn. The reasons behind this are no doubt complex, but as the US has not constructed a new reactor since the 1970s, the loss of nuclear expertise must be a factor.

Summer 2 and 3 were intended to showcase advanced nuclear technology and pave the way, along with the Georgia plants – also Westinghouse AP1000s, for a nuclear renaissance in the US.  A further four AP1000s and 12 SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) are currently proposed and several more are in the early stages of planning. The fate of these and the two Georgia plants remains to be seen…….

The Westinghouse bankruptcy has also complicated the picture in the US, with its AP1000 design being used for the South Carolina and Georgia projects and its role being reduced to a vendor supporting the EPC. Their situation has also had an effect in the UK, with Toshiba’s stake in Nu-Gen now being considered by KEPCO. Rather than utilise the Westinghouse design, which was approved by the UK nuclear regulator, ONR, in March this year, KEPCO wants to use its own technology, which will cause a delay in construction of the Moorside plant while the necessary regulatory design assessment is undertaken.

The South Korean nuclear industry is also in difficulty, with the new anti-nuclear government suspending construction of the Shin Kori 5 and 6 nuclear plants for several months while it undertakes a public consultation on their future. This decision has generated much debate in the country and is seen as a threat to its nuclear exports, and KEPCO’s future Nu-Gen.

Decisions to be taken in the next few months will be crucial for the future of nuclear in the US and Korea. …….

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, South Korea, UK, USA | Leave a comment