The government plans to resume negotiations to revise a 1974 atomic energy pact with the U.S. this month and focus on securing the right to enrich uranium for nuclear power generation.
A senior diplomat on Tuesday said, "We will try our best to persuade the U.S. to let us produce low-enriched uranium."
But the more pressing question of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel will depend on the result of a joint study of a technology known as pyroprocessing that does not produce weapons-grade plutonium.
This source said the Obama administration takes a firm line against non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which means that there has been very little progress in negotiations to revise the bilateral atomic energy pact for the past two years.
"It will take several years until the results of the joint study on pyroprocessing come out, so it's better to work on securing the right to produce LEU in the meantime," the diplomat added.
Despite being the world's fifth largest nuclear power producer, Korea cannot enrich uranium by itself and spends W900 billion (US$1=W1,096) every year buying uranium yellowcake and commissioning other countries to enrich uranium for its nuclear reactors.
The government hopes to make progress in the talks with the U.S. before the Korea-U.S. summit in Washington in May.