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Seoul, Washington to make inroads into overseas nuclear power market

Seoul, Washington to make inroads into overseas nuclear power market

Posted May. 24, 2021 07:31,   

Updated May. 24, 2021 07:31


South Korea and the United States have agreed to join hands and enter the nuclear power industry in other regions. As the former has an outstanding level of construction competence while the latter is equipped with source technological capabilities such as nuclear reactor design, the export of nuclear power plants will gain momentum in both nations. With it being welcome news to the South Korean nuclear power industry, there are concerns that South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s zero-nuclear policy and the nuclear export enterprise may not move forward in sync.

President Moon and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden issued a joint statement on Friday (local time) that they reached agreement to strengthen bilateral cooperation in overseas nuclear power markets by joining nuclear reactor projects, said the South Korean Ministry of Trade, industry and Energy on Sunday. Based on the two heads of state’s pledge, business-level discussions on cooperation will go into detail. As the United States has sought international cooperation networks to check China’s and Russia’s growing ambitions for winning new projects across the globe, South Korean businesses can use it as a lever to join in overseas projects. Seoul and Washington also agreed to ask contracting parties to join the IAEA Additional Protocol when they export nuclear reactors to them. The legal document written by the IAEA grants the organization greater authority to inspect nuclear facilities not reported yet. Several countries including Brazil and Saudi Arabia have not joined the protocol yet.  

The joint agreement between Seoul and Washington raises hopes of the South Korean nuclear industry about recovering momentum for export. However, some point out that the current nuclear-free policy at the governmental level may hold back a cooperative relationship with Washington in terms of export of nuclear technology.

Teuk-Gyo Koo kootg@donga.com