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S. Korea, U.S. to cooperate on 4th generation nuclear reactor, fuel reprocessing

All Headlines 11:00 August 12, 2007

By Lee Joon-seung

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have agreed to work together in fourth generation nuclear reactors and atomic fuel reprocessing, the Ministry of Science and Technology said Sunday.

The decision to cooperate in sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) and pyro-processing was reached at a meeting between South Korea's Science Minister Kim Woo-sik and U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

SFR is a U.S.-designed reactor that can better manage high-level wastes like plutonium. It has more safety features than conventional reactors, and is more efficient because it can use a wider range of fuel sources, including depleted uranium.

Pyro-processing is a process designed to store spent nuclear fuel that help could contribute to global non-proliferation efforts.

Kim, who met Bodman in the U.S. last week, also exchanged views on expanding bilateral ties as Washington moves to expand its use of nuclear power generation in accordance with the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) plan, announced in February 2006.

Under the plan, the world's largest atomic energy user will move to increase nuclear power production while simultaneously designing and selling small-sized reactors and related technologies suitable for emerging economies.

The GNEP could allow the export of South Korean nuclear components to the U.S. and foreign markets.

With 19 operational commercial reactors, South Korea has steadily built power plants since the 1970s, meanwhile gaining extensive experience in the nuclear energy field. The country can design its own reactors and is moving to export them abroad.

In addition to nuclear cooperation, the two policymakers discussed details about the "Nuclear Cooperation Agreement" scheduled to be signed by Seoul and Washington in the first half of 2008, as well as the progress being made in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project.

Kim, meanwhile, visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier in the week to view the rocket launch facilities.

Seoul said it views the U.S. rocket launch facility as a benchmark as it moves to complete its own Naro Space Center. The South Korean space center, located on the southern coast, will launch its first rocket late next year.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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