An organization of the world's most developed countries is not worried that South Korea would abuse sought-after plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment technologies to produce nuclear weapons material, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday.
"I don't have any doubt that if South Korea has enrichment technology and reprocessing technology, it will always be in total respect to international agreements and after safeguards," said Luis Echavarri, who leads the Nuclear Energy Agency at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Seoul is pushing in talks for a revised atomic trade pact with the United States for permission to domestically recycle used atomic fuel and to enrich uranium. The South argues such technologies are necessary for the continued growth of its nuclear energy industry. The Obama administration, though, is concerned that granting South Korea use of technologies that can be exploited to produce fissile material would send the wrong proliferation signal to the world and undermine efforts on North Korean denuclearization.
A decades-old atomic cooperation agreement between the longtime allies is set to end in 2014.
"Though the issue corresponds to the negotiations between South Korea and the U.S., I don't think that will contribute to South Korea having nuclear weapons," Echavarri said.
Still, he allowed it is "not good to introduce those activities on the peninsula."