Korea and the United States have agreed to start talks about the revision of a bilateral atomic energy agreement this fall, it emerged on Monday. Seoul is keen to reprocess its own spent fuel rods, which it is barred from doing under the agreement, but Washington has so far been reluctant to permit it since the process results in the production of weapons-grade plutonium.
But in a meeting Monday with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Seoul, Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department's special advisor for non-proliferation and arms control, apparently signaled willingness to consider Seoul's proposal to use a process known as pyroprocessing, which does not produce plutonium that is pure enough for nuclear weapons.
A diplomatic source said, "The U.S. has shown some confidence in Korea's pledge to reuse the spent nuclear fuel peacefully. Concrete technical matters will be reviewed by scientists and engineers of the two countries in negotiations."