By Victor Cha
The new U.S.-ROK 123 agreement, announced on April 22, is a unique and mutually beneficial deal that speaks to the decades-long civil nuclear relationship between the two allies and it will allow ongoing positive cooperation in nuclear energy in the future.
It commits the two countries to help ensure a supply of enriched fuel to South Korea for nuclear power reactors. It provides the option to Korea for removal of spent nuclear fuel to third countries.
The agreement deals with the thorny issue of advanced consent for reprocessing or enrichment, not by granting these activities, but by subjecting all future discussions/requests to a high-level bilateral management mechanism set up by the agreement.
Thus, the agreement deals with non-proliferation risks without expressly requiring the ROK to renounce forever a “sovereign” right to certain technical capabilities.
Dr. Victor Cha is senior adviser and holds the Korea Chair at CSIS. You can follow him on twitter @vcgiants.
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Dr. Victor Cha is senior adviser and Korea Chair at CSIS. He is also a professor of government at Georgetown University.