At the parliamentary inspection of the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy on October 12, participants had a debate over whether the consent of the United States is required for South Korea to export nuclear power plants.
The ministry recently said that its consent is required, according to the Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the United States of America concerning Civil Use of Atomic Energy, for the construction of two nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia. Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, claimed the opposite, saying that the APR 1400 reactor is technologically independent. “Although it is true that it is technologically independent, any power plant to be built abroad with the technology and components of the U.S. requires the consent of the U.S.,” the ministry said in response, adding, “The project is subject to export and import control by the U.S. as Saudi Arabia has no atomic energy agreement with the U.S.”
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) President Cho Hwan-ik said that technological self-reliance is one thing and export is another although the self-reliance has been achieved based on the technology of the United States. “Technological verification is still needed even after the achievement of the independence and the consent of the U.S. is required as overseas nuclear power plant construction is related to nonproliferation,” he remarked.
Ruling party lawmakers sided with the ministry, too. “Westinghouse as a patent holder should give its approval first for a nuclear power plant to be built abroad by South Korea and I’m wondering how the APR 1400 reactor can be exported with the reactor currently having no overseas patent application history at all,” one of them pointed out.
Professor Park Jong-un at the Department of Nuclear & Energy System Engineering of Dongguk University, who was invited to provide technical advice, supported the government and the ruling party by saying the reactor is based on the technology of the United States and, as such, its consent should be obtained first.