[EDITORIALS]A need to come cleanInternational controversy over Korea’s unauthorized production of 0.2 grams of enriched uranium is intensifying. During the board of governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency two days ago, its secretary-general said that it was a seriously worrisome matter that South Korea did not report to the agency on the retention of 150 kilograms of unreported uranium metal.
When the issue first broke, the Ministry of Science and Technology said there would be no problems. But it appears that the issue is becoming a serious international concern, as the Foreign Ministry anticipated.
The government had said, “Our capability to extract enriched uranium is not great and we do not have any intention to produce nuclear arms. The IAEA knows that and thus it is not a special problem.” But the unfolding events make the public wonder what the truth is regarding this matter.
We do not know what measures the IAEA will take against Korea. The most desirable measure would be a word of caution like, “We understand the Korean government’s effort to fulfill the safeguards. But there was a procedural problem.” But there is also a possibility that the IAEA may decide to hand over the issue to the United Nations Security Council for failure to fulfill the IAEA safeguards.
The government says it cannot make public its reactions with the IAEA as they are secret. We regret that the issue caused confusion and unease for the public. In particular, it was a mistake for the government to draw a conclusion at the beginning of the case saying, “There is no problem.”
The case is full of suspicions. Why are Korea’s nuclear activities of 20 years ago being revealed now, all at the same time? It is also difficult to understand why the six problems the government reported to the IAEA appeared in the foreign press a couple of days after they were reported to the international nuclear watchdog.
People are eager to know what connections the unfolding events have with the national interest of Korea. We are concerned that we might suffer unexpected damage because of our small mistake or misunderstanding of procedures.
In this sense, the public needs to know about the truth of the issue. The government would not be able to obtain public trust if it were to make another explanation only after the foreign press disclose a new story.
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