(november 13, 2003) NIRS and WISE both celebrate their 25th anniversaries this year. This is the fifteenth article in a series, "25 years ago", comparing anti-nuclear news "then" and "now", to mark our first quarter-century of anti-nuclear campaigning.
In issue 3 of WISE Bulletin we wrote: "Local opposition is beginning, despite the lack of public debate, against the South Korean government's plan for a vast nuclear programme. The target is no less than 46 nukes by the year 2000! There are reasons to suspect the South Koreans may have their eye on a bomb-making capacity." (WISE Bulletin 3, December 1978)
South Korea's nuclear program was in its beginning supported by the U.S. Between 1955-1977 several Koreans were trained in the U.S. and the first power reactors were of Westinghouse design. Kori-1 was the first operating NPP (1978). The attempt to obtain a reprocessing plant from the French in the mid-1970s raise concerns about nuclear weapons development in Korea.
(The Nuclear Fix, WISE, 1981)
The decision to develop a nuclear weapon was made in 1971-1972. Besides negotiations with France, South Korea also tried to obtain technology and material from Belgium and U.S. industry. Certainly helpful was the development of its civilian nuclear program, creating the necessary infrastructure and technical capability to support a weapons program.
Under pressure from the U.S., the Koreans officially abandoned the weapons program in 1975 on condition that the U.S. stopped Army troop withdrawals from the Korean Peninsula. However, strong evidence exists that the program continued until 1979, when President Park Chung-Hee was assassinated and a new government came to power. (South Korea country profile, SIPRI, 2003, projects.sipri.se/nuclear/cnsc3kos.htm)
Currently, 18 power reactors operate with a total capacity of 14,920 MW (14 PWRs and 4 CANDUs). Under the present "5th long term power development plan" (2000), eight more reactors are to be opened by 2015 (Nuclear Power in South Korea, Uranium Information Center, November 2003). The IAEA only mentions two reactors under construction (www.iaea.org)
In July 2003, following more than 15 years of unsuccessful attempts, the government appointed Wido Island (Buan County) as final disposal site for nuclear waste. This raised massive and successful resistance and eventually on 12 December the government abandoned the proposal (see elsewhere in this issue).
Reproduction of this material is encouraged. Please give credit when reprinting.
Editorial team: Robert Jan van den Berg and Tinu Otoki(WISE Amsterdam), Michael Mariotte (NIRS). With contributions from Greenpeace Finland, Linda Gunter, Scientific Consulting for Energy and the Environment, WISE Uranium.
With this last issue of 2003, we wish all our readers a Happy New Year
The next issue (601) will be mailed out January 9, 2004.
Oops! In our last issue we made a mistake in article 599.5559: "Package deal on gold mine and Cernavoda-2?". On page 7, first paragraph we wrote "a loan for 200 billion Euro". It should be "200 million Euro".