Skip to main content

Why Extension of the U.S.-ROK Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is Critical to U.S. Interests

Ted Jones
The following is a guest post by Ted Jones, Director of International Supplier Relations for NEI.

This afternoon, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on H.R. 2449, to authorize the President to extend the current U.S.-South Korea nuclear cooperation agreement until March 2016.  U.S. and South Korea negotiators had hoped to conclude negotiations for a long-term successor to the 30-year agreement earlier this spring, but ran out of time. 

Temporary extension of the current agreement will avoid a disruption of U.S.-ROK nuclear energy cooperation while negotiation of the long-term renewal agreement is finalized.  Bilateral nuclear energy trade flows in both directions and increasingly to third countries.  For example, U.S. Export-Import Bank last year authorized financing for $2 billion in U.S. exports to a South Korean-led project in the U.A.E. 

Seamless continuation of U.S.-ROK nuclear cooperation is essential for the United States and South Korea to remain reliable nuclear energy partners and suppliers to the global nuclear energy market.  Disruptions in our partnerships would encourage countries developing nuclear energy to reduce their reliance on U.S. sources of nuclear components, technology and services. At stake are billions in U.S.exports and tens of thousands of jobs

Exports and jobs are not the only U.S. interests at issue in U.S. nuclear energy commerce.  As a group of former defense and national security leaders recently explained in a letter to the President, U.S. influence in global nuclear security, safety and nonproliferation requires U.S. engagement in global nuclear energy markets. 

South Korea demonstrates the benefits to nuclear security and nonproliferation of U.S. nuclear cooperation.  The current U.S.-ROKSection 123 agreement provides the United States with consent rights over South Korea’s reprocessing of U.S.-origin fuel. When the long-term successor agreement is concluded, this consent right will be extended to used fuel from non-U.S. reactors, and to South Korea’s enrichment and storage of plutonium or highly-enriched uranium. These consent rights, plus 8 other nonproliferation assurances and guarantees, are required in every standard Section 123 agreement.

The U.S.-South Korea Section 123 agreement is the basis for a robust U.S. partnership in nuclear energy cooperation. By approving the clean extension this agreement, and the conclusion of nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries, Congress will enable the United States to compete in the growing global marketplace and create tens of thousands of jobs, while maintaining its beneficial influence over global nonproliferation policy and international nuclear safety.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…