Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 01/2015

Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security in South Korea

Siegfried S. Hecker, Chaim Braun, Robert Forrest, Peter Davis

December 2013

Center for International Security and Cooperation


This study employed diverse teams of scholars organized by the East Asia Institute (EAI) and the Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) to examine future opportunities for bilateral nuclear cooperation between South Korea and the United States and how to strengthen global nuclear governance. During the past 15 months, the teams exchanged ideas and perspectives of the nuclear industries in each country and their future trajectories, and analyzed future challenges and opportunities through multiple visits, workshops and conferences. We found much common ground, especially once we better understood each other’s objectives and views. For example, South Korea’s dramatic emergence as a global industrial and nuclear powerhouse has changed the international nuclear landscape. Today, nuclear cooperation between South Korea and the United States offers as many benefits for the United States as it does for South Korea. With the U.S. share in the global nuclear power market declining and its influence on global nuclear safety, nuclear security and nonproliferation policies and practices endange red, teaming with South Korea can reinvigorate U.S. industrial participation and preserve U.S. influence on global nuclear governance. Bilateral ROK – U.S. nuclear cooperation is essential for both sides, both in technical and in policy matters. The views of the two teams differ somewhat on future directions of South Korea’s nuclear fuel - cycle choices – more in terms of how quickly these are required than in what choices may be best in the long term. The EAI team presents its case based on numerous ROK studies of these issues conducted over many years. The CISAC team conducted a TEP (technical, economic and political) analysis of fuel - cycle issues specifically for this study. Individual papers expressing the views of the EAI and CISAC teams on the issues of global nuclear governance and nuclear cooperation are presented in this report. We present the overview perspectives from both teams before presenting the findings in greater detail.