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S.Korea seeks to extend nuke cooperation pact with US

Posted March. 11, 2013 02:46,   


The presidential office is known to seek an extension of the government`s nuclear energy cooperation pact with the U.S., which expires in March next year.

At the senior secretaries meeting last week, Ju Chul-ki, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, reported about the necessities of the revision and the plan of negotiations, to President Park Geun-hye, saying, "The revision of the bilateral nuclear agreement was an “urgent task” and that the government will soon resume working-level negotiations to try to revise it as planned."

Signed and taking effect in 1974, the accord expires on March 19 next year. Considering U.S. congressional procedures, the governments of the two countries must complete negotiations for the revision before the end of June this year. The current agreement on commercial nuclear cooperation bans South Korea from reprocessing nuclear waste for fear that the plutonium obtained through reprocessing could be used to produce nuclear weapons.

Seoul needs Washington`s approval to reprocess nuclear waste through the revision of the pact because South Korea`s storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel are expected to reach full capacity in 2016. The U.S., however, is reluctant to give the green light due to its non-proliferation policy and accept Seoul`s proposal to use pyroprocessing, which materials are reprocessed at high temperatures, saying the technology has yet to be proven. Certain officials in Seoul have been discussing extending the deadline for the renegotiation by one or two years. Yet the general view is that postponing the revision would be detrimental to South Korea`s national interest in environment and economy.

It is not an easy situation for South Korea to negotiate home and abroad as both calls for the right of South Korean nuclear sovereignty and concern of the U.S. over the possibility of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula are simultaneously increasing due to North Korea’s third nuclear test last month A source at the presidential office said, "We`ll exert out best diplomatic efforts by seeking a variety of ways, including pyroprocessing.”