Nuclear Options: Behind the US-South Korea Conflict

Conference/Symposium: Center for Korean Studies: Center for Japanese Studies: Institute of East Asian Studies | September 19 | 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Ro-byug Park, Ambassador for Nuclear Energy Cooperation and Special Representative for ROK-US Nuclear Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea

 Yoon Il Chang, Argonne Distinguished Fellow, Argonne National Laboratory; Chaim Braun, Consulting Professor, Stanford University; Yongsoo Hwang, Director General, Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Control; Yusuke Kuno, Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Management, University of Tokyo/Japan Atomic Energy Agency; Andrew Newman, Senior Program Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Michael J. Apted, Vice President, INTERA Incorporated; In-Tae Kim, Vice President for Nuclear Fuel Cycle Technology Development, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute

 Thomas Isaacs, Visiting Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

 Joonhong Ahn, Professor of Nuclear Engineering, UC Berkeley

 Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), Center for Korean Studies (CKS), Center for Japanese Studies (CJS)

Nuclear power turned to weaponry is a dire threat at any time, never more so than in an unstable international climate. At the same time, nuclear power is embraced by South Korea not only as a clean and relatively inexpensive option for its energy-hungry economy, but as a promising export in itself, and an avenue of lucrative technology transfer.

The threat of international proliferation has raised concern over South Korea’s latest development: an improved form of pyroprocessing, a promising method for treating spent fuel for future re-use. But in reusing fuel for nuclear power, it can also potentially be used for weapons. Its efficiency makes the process the more accessible, the more tempting, and the more potentially deadly.

A complex constellation of past treaties, current imperatives, and international concerns cloud discussion. Reinvigorated anti-nuclear efforts in the post-Fukushima world protest expansion of nuclear power. International attempts to curb nuclear export have raised cries of national sovereignty. Scientists voice concern about the effects of the new method of re-processing. This symposium attempts to unpack the political, historical, economic, and scientific issues, and illuminate the larger picture of the role of nuclear power in contemporary geo-politics.

 cks@berkeley.edu, 510-642-5674