[EDITORIALS]Responsible, safe nuclear useThe government announced its principles of peaceful nuclear use and reaffirmed the principles of transparency. The announcement came as part of an effort to dispel international suspicions that have recently risen over nuclear material experiments that were conducted some years ago in Seoul.
The government had unfortunately given the impression of foundering in face of the situation from the beginning. However, this announcement is expected to be the turning point of driving away these unfounded suspicions from abroad. It was about time we declared our determination so clearly before the additional investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The most noteworthy part of the government’s announcement was the declaration that it would try to expand the scope of nuclear use for peaceful purposes. This is inevitable for South Korea, which depends heavily upon nuclear energy.
The fact is, South Korea has operated 19 nuclear facilities for decades, and it has proved it can safely maintain and operate nuclear reactors. Yet it is not allowed to operate the last stage of a nuclear fuel cycle, which is the reprocessing.
This is a highly undeserved and unfair restriction for South Korea, which has performed its duties for several decades as a faithful ally of the United States, including sending troops to uphold the free world in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and has been taking part in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. It is all the more unfair when considering the fact that neighboring Japan, which was an aggressor in World War II, has its own reprocessing facilities and can enrich uranium.
That our government has foresworn to enforce diplomatic efforts to break this discriminatory standard is highly encouraging to our scientists and will serve as a major momentum in alleviating any anti-American sentiments here.
However, the issue of nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities is also connected to the Joint North-South Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and is only possible with the trust of the international society.
In order to achieve this goal, the government must first implement a stricter and more transparent cooperation policy and a rigorous supervisory policy on nuclear materials to acquire the trust of international society. In turn, the International Atomic Energy Agency should respect Korea’s four principles of nuclear usage.