New S. Korea-U.S. nuclear accord takes effect
November 25, 2015 (Source: Yonhap News) — A revised nuclear pact between South Korea and the United States came into effect Wednesday, which the Foreign Ministry described as another “pillar” of their alliance.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se exchanged a related diplomatic document with U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert in a ceremony held at the ministry building.
It replaces an accord on bilateral nuclear energy cooperation that was signed four decades ago.
“It is a milestone to open a new era in strategic and future-oriented atomic energy cooperation,” the ministry said. “It will also serve as another pillar of the South Korea-U.S. alliance along with the mutual defense treaty and the free trade agreement.”
After years of negotiations, the allies struck the deal in April to allow Seoul to expand its peaceful nuclear activity despite Washington’s concern over a possible negative effect on its nonproliferation drive.
Seoul will be able to conduct research into a nascent nuclear-reprocessing technology known as “pyroprocessing.”
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It will also continue discussions with Washington on the possible low-level enrichment of uranium.
The two countries are preparing to hold the first found of regular vice ministerial consultations on the sensitive issue.
“A planning session for that is expected to be held in early January next year,” a ministry official said.
South Korea launched its nuclear industry with the help of the U.S., and it has emerged as a nuclear plant exporter. It operates two dozen nuclear reactors.
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