A South Korean think tank affiliated with the government on Monday urged the United States to permit Seoul to expand its range of permitted atomic energy production activities to include uranium enrichment and the recycling of used fuel, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
A soon-to-expire bilateral nuclear cooperation deal bars South Korea from recycling used atomic fuel or refining uranium -- activities that have both peaceful and nuclear-weapon applications. The two nations are negotiating a replacement accord that the South hopes will include the right to use developmental pyroprocessing technology, which does not remove separated plutonium from other atomic elements.
"The U.S. nuclear cooperation policy towards restricting South Korea's peaceful enrichment and reprocessing is contradictory to the bilateral partnership built on mutual respect under the Korea-U.S. strategic alliance," states a new report by the South Korean Foreign Ministry-linked Korean Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security.
"Given the fact that South Korea has been actively working to strengthen a global nonproliferation regime, the U.S. needs to fully change its policy on nuclear cooperation with South Korea," report author Jun Bong-geun wrote.