Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

Produced by
NationalJournal logo

South Korea Sought to Purchase Spent Fuel Rods From North, Official Confirms

South Korea in 2009 unsuccessfully sought to purchase spent nuclear fuel rods from North Korea in a bid to stop its longtime rival's nuclear weapons development, an anonymous presidential official on Monday told the Korea JoongAng Daily (see GSN, April 3).

The source from the office of President Lee Myung-bak verified an account in former Bush administration North Korea adviser Victor Cha's new book that Seoul in January 2009 sent its No. 2 nuclear negotiator to Pyongyang in a bid to acquire 8,000 used nuclear rods from the Stalinist regime.

The intent was to keep North Korea from reprocessing the nuclear material to weapon-grade levels, according to Cha's book, "The Impossible State." Pyongyang demanded an enormous amount of money for the fuel rods and Seoul walked away from the possible deal, Cha wrote.

"Chun Young-woo, then the chief of the six-party nuclear talks, proposed to the North in 2008 that South Korea was willing to buy the spent fuel rods if they were sold at the international market price," the anonymous Lee official said. "But the North demanded an unreasonably high price."

North Korea at the time was still participating in six-nation talks aimed at shuttering its nuclear program. In the wake of U.N. Security Council condemnation of an apparent April 2009 long-range missile test, Pyongyang declared the negotiations "dead" and in May of that year detonated its second atomic test device.

Efforts to resume the nuclear negotiations have been unsuccessful, with the most recent obstacle being the North's plan for another rocket launch later this month (see related GSN story, today; Ko Jung-ae, Korea JoongAng Daily, April 5).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

NTI Analysis

  • Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection

    Dec. 16, 2014

    The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

  • UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection

    Oct. 6, 2014

    The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.

Country Profile

Flag of North Korea

North Korea

This article provides an overview of North Korea's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

Learn More →