No Nuclear Dismantlement without a Light-Water Reactor

Yang Jung A  |  2008-02-03 22:41
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An agreement to dismantle North Koreas nuclear programs will not be reached until North Korea receives a light-water reactor, said Chun Yong Woo, South Koreas chief envoy to the Six Party Talks during his keynote speech at a conference held on the 1st of February at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University. The speech was titled Reducing the threat of WMD through Global Partnership.

Chun said, North Korea will receive a light-water reactor when it finishes the current denuclearization process, comes back to the NPT, and complies with IAEA safeguards.

Initially, a light-water reactor construction project began in August 1997 as part of the 1994 Geneva Framework Agreement in which the U.S. promised North Korea two 1000-megawatt light water reactors for electrical power. In the wake of the North Korean nuclear crisis in 2002, however, the construction project ground to a halt. At that time, the project was approximately 34.5% complete.

It will take an additional six to seven years to finish construction, Chun said. With support from the international community, the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program designed to facilitate nuclear dismantlement and provide training to nuclear scientists can be applied to North Korea.

CTR is not just applicable to the case of the former Soviet Union. It can be modified and adopted to North Korea. Chun suggested that as part of the CTR program, it would be possible to transform the Yongbyon nuclear complex into an environmentally friendly place and use it for peaceful purposes such as uranium refinement. That would help create jobs and generate foreign currency.

Providing an example of a CTR program, Chon introduced the Nunn-Lugar program. Devised by U.S. senators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn in 1991 to dismantle nuclear programs of the former Soviet republics, the program provided capital, technology, equipment and personnel support for these nuclear countries. The EU, Japan and South Korea have recently joined the program to provide financial assistance.

North Korea reportedly has about five thousand nuclear scientists. We have to figure out how to educate these nuclear scientists when North Korea completes its nuclear dismantlement obligation. Instead of becoming victims of denuclearization, these scientists should come out as winners after denuclearization, and we should help them find work in peaceful and productive fields.

With regard to the disablement of the Youngbyon nuclear complex, North Korea has completed eight of eleven nuclear disablement measures. The country still has to get rid of its control rod and that can be done only after it completely removes its used fuel rods.
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