The Korea Herald


S. Korea, U.S. to hold further nuclear cooperation talks

By 신혜인

Published : Feb. 15, 2011 - 19:38

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South Korea and the U.S. will hold a second round of talks over how to revise their decades-old nuclear cooperation pact, sources said Tuesday.

Forged in 1974, the current Seoul-Washington peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement, which bans South Korea from reprocessing spent fuel from civilian nuclear plants, will expire in 2014.

Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, is expected to visit Seoul next month for the negotiations with South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun on the issue, unnamed diplomatic sources here said.

In a recent interview with The Korea Herald, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan had said his government was working closely with Washington on the details of a new pact that would “positively affect both sides concerning peaceful nuclear trade and nonproliferation controls.”

“The nuclear agreement was forged decades ago when the situation was very different from how it is now,” he had said.

“I expect a brand new pact to replace the current accord, bringing a positive effect for both sides.”

The 1974 Seoul-Washington pact forbids South Korea from reprocessing fuel from civilian nuclear plants, a provision Seoul hopes to alter in the new negotiations.

During the first round of consultations in October last year, Washington had agreed to review Seoul’s request to adopt a new technology ― considered less prone to proliferation as it leaves separated plutonium ― in the pact. Plutonium is the main substance used when making nuclear bombs.

South Korea, which produces 36 percent of its energy at its 20 nuclear power plants, has to deal with more than 10,000 tons of nuclear waste at storage facilities that are expected to reach capacity in 2016.

By Shin Hae-in and news reports (