Nuclear, Reactors, Waste Management & Decommissioning

U.S., S. Korea, reach civil nuclear deal

South Korea Nuclear Reactor to Begin Operational Testing

The U.S. and South Korea revised a treaty that continues to deny South Korea the right to enrich uranium or reprocess spent nuclear fuel.
South Korea has been prevented from enriching uranium and reprocessing spent nuclear fuel since a 1972 treaty, according to The New York Times. The treaty was set to expire in 2013, so both governments began negotiations to revise the treaty in 2010. Negotiations were too far apart, so leaders signed separate agreements to extend the end date, the article said.
South Korea said it needs to enrich uranium to make fuel for its nuclear power plant fleet, and that the country needs to reprocess waste to deal with decreasing waste storage capacity. An August 2014 article in Reuters said the country could run out of storage space by 2016.
The treaty, however, does not eliminate the possibility for South Korea to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel for civil nuclear energy in the future, and created an option for South Korea to send their spent fuel abroad for reprocessing. The U.S. also said it would help the country find waste management options that would be economically viable and more proliferation-resistant, the article said.
South Korea is home to 23 reactors that generate 36 percent of the country’s electricity.
Subscribe to Nuclear Power International magazine