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Global Security Newswire

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

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South Korea, U.S. Still at Odds on New Atomic Trade Terms

South Korea on Wednesday announced it remained unable to reach agreement with the United States on terms for a new bilateral civilian atomic cooperation agreement, necessitating a two-year extension of the current nuclear accord that was to have expired in 2014, the New York Times reported.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said the two governments would use the extension period to work out "the complexity of details and technologies."

The primary point of contention is Seoul's desire to domestically enrich uranium and reprocess spent atomic fuel -- technologies that can be used to produce reactor fuel or nuclear-weapon material. The Obama administration worries that granting that permission in the new deal would send a bad proliferation signal to the international community and further muddy efforts to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said the atomic trade talks would be a critical trial of the "trust" between Seoul and Washington.

Cho said there had been "some meaningful progress" in convincing Washington of the importance of the South being able to recycle spent nuclear waste and produce additional atomic fuel.

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