(ATTN: ADDS detailed support measures in last 5 paras)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged Wednesday to rebuild the nuclear power industry and support its expansion overseas, underscoring his commitment to reversing the nuclear phase-out policy of the previous administration.
Yoon made the remark after touring a nuclear reactor factory owned by Doosan Enerbility in Changwon, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
During the campaign, the president had pledged to resume construction of the Shin-Hanul No. 3 and No. 4 nuclear reactors and to aim to export 10 nuclear reactors by 2030.
"Our nuclear power plants are recognized for their world-class technology and stability," Yoon said during a meeting with industry and government officials at the Doosan Enerbility headquarters.
"The competitiveness of our nuclear plant businesses lies in our ability to construct on time and on budget, which no other company in the world can imitate," he said.
Yoon took a swipe at the previous Moon Jae-in administration, saying "had we not been foolish over the past five years and further reinforced the nuclear power ecosystem, we probably would not have any competitors now."
Still, the president noted the door to the nuclear power plant export market is "wide open" and that countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Poland and the United States recognize nuclear power as a key energy source on the path to carbon neutrality.
"We've set our policy direction," Yoon said, referring to his plans to scrap the nuclear phase-out policy and rebuild the nuclear energy sector.
"It's not just the direction that's important, but quickly putting it on track," he added. "The government will provide active assistance so that the industrial sites and factories in Changwon, the hub of the nuclear power ecosystem, can bounce back and all of you can be excited to work."
The industry ministry said the government will provide companies in the nuclear power industry with work worth 92.5 billion won (US$71.36 million) this year and invest 670 billion won to support their research and development, according to the industry ministry.
By 2025, the government plans to commission 1 trillion won worth of projects to the private sector and pour more than 3 trillion won into technology development.
It will also devise various support measures for smaller nuclear energy companies, including 100 billion won worth of emergency funds.
For the development of an advanced homegrown small modular reactor, nearly 40 billion won will be earmarked through 2028, according to the ministry.
The government also decided to set up a graduate school on high-level radioactive wastes to nurture experts in the sector, and provide various education and training programs to employees in the field, it added.
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