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IAEA Seeks Restriction on Atomic Energy for Research

Posted August. 05, 2004 22:11,   


Nuclear powers such as the U.S, Europe, and Japan are pushing for a restriction of “sovereignty in nuclear development” regarding nuclear energy not only for military use but also civilian use, according to a Nihon Keizai Shimbun report on August 5, quoting an IAEA source.

According to the IAEA, these nuclear powers are preparing an “international management system for nuclear fuel” which will allow the production, storage, and disposal of nuclear fuel in a few designated spots on each continent, with nations in need of the energy for research or electricity generation being supplied to them from these spots.

An IAEA official revealed that implementation plans will be discussed at the IAEA expert committee, which will be established at the end of August, with plans to submit the issue as an official agenda at the IAEA meeting next March.

Such a move was taken because suspicions continue to arise regarding nuclear arms development around the world, including North Korea taking advantage of NPT, which allows the civilian use of atomic powers to extract plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons, from spent nuclear fuel rods.

The outline of the new management system is to limit the production of highly enriched uranium, the storage and final disposal of spent nuclear fuel rods, and the extraction and reprocessing of plutonium to a few designated spots on each continent.

However, Nihon Keizai reported that this plan could trigger much controversy of “nuclear inequality” in the international community as it virtually deprives late runners in nuclear development of their “sovereign right to use nuclear energy for civilian use.”

The current NPT restricts nuclear weapon holders to five nations—the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., and France— but allows all nations to pursue nuclear powers for civilian use independently.

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com