Seoul Pledges to Develop Nuclear Recycling Technologies

      March 12, 2010 12:33

      The government on Thursday pledged to develop technology that will dramatically reduce radioactive waste and recycle spent nuclear fuel as an alternative resource.

      The pledge, a thinly veiled protest against U.S. refusals to allow Korea to reprocess its own spent nuclear fuel rods, was made by Prime Minister Chung Un-chan in his opening speech at the 2010 Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment that kicked off in Seoul.

      "The premise to the successful worldwide adoption and use of atomic technology is bilateral or multilateral cooperation through sharing of relevant information and experience," he said. Seoul is banned from reprocessing spent fuel rods under a nuclear agreement with the U.S., signed in 1953 and amended in 1973. It expires in 2014, and the two sides are gearing up for negotiations for its renewal.

      However, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, on Thursday said, "All new enrichment and reprocessing activities, anywhere in the world, in future should be put exclusively under multilateral control." ElBaradei said the "final step" would be "to convert all existing enrichment and reprocessing facilities from national to multinational operations."

      "This is, clearly, a tall order. However, if we lack the vision and the will to move in that direction, we risk witnessing the emergence of more and more nuclear-weapon-capable states, in addition to those which already have nuclear arsenals," he added.

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