Energy and Climate Policy Institute

작성일 : 13-05-06 16:28
Energy No. 29 The Northeast Asia denuclearization and anxiety component remains
 글쓴이 : 에정센…
조회 : 8,178 No.29.pdf [2348]
1. Issues

Republic of Korea - U.S. Atomic Energy Agreement, extended by two years
The Northeast Asia denuclearization and anxiety component remains

Since April 16 in local time, there had been negotiations for the revision of the Republic of Korea - U.S. Atomic Energy Agreement, but the parties decided to move the deadline by two years to March 2014 for now. It seems they chose delaying action because the Republic of Korea - U.S. summit is just around the corner and because of the crisis in the Korean peninsula due to North Korea’s provocation. The main issues with the revision of the Republic of Korea - U.S. Atomic Energy Agreement pertain to uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of used fuel. It is widely known that the two countries had tentatively agreed to solve the used fuel reprocessing problem after the completion of the 10-year Korea-U.S. joint research on ‘pyro-processing.’ And the uranium enrichment problem also found a solution as invest to share of uranium enrichment factory in the U.S. Since the Park Geun-hye administration started, however, requires the official specific admission of ‘pyro-processing’ in the agreement. Moreover, the negotiation direction has been changed.

In this context, the Korean government’s logics to revision are the development of the nuclear industry, the prevention of nuclear waste saturation, the ensuring of fairness with Japan, etc. – in short, ‘the expansion of the right to use nuclear peacefully.’ However, the U.S. position is ‘violation of the denuclearization principle.’ The different approaches of these two countries expose the contradiction between uranium enrichment and the technique for reprocessing used fuel, which is the same as the contradiction between the nuclear weapon principle and the strategy to expand the right to peaceful use of nuclear. Actually, it seems very natural the Republic of Korea’s requirement to be interpreted as the production of nuclear weapons for the international society, including Northeast Asia (and North Korea) and the U.S., if it is considered that the real way to solve supply nuclear fuel and nuclear waste problem is to stop nuclear power generation, and that the reprocessing used fuel technique is very far from commercialization and is only at the laboratory level, apart from being economically unfeasible worldwide.

Moreover, the U.S. is facing new and revises Atomic Energy Agreements with 10 other countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Thus, if it makes an exception for Korea, the international situation concerning denuclearization should be unstable. It might provide good excuses to not only several countries that had negotiations for such an agreement but also to Japan, which has more plutonium than several other countries that already have nuclear weapons. Therefore, all civil societies in the world that oppose nuclear including Korea, should actively respond to such negotiations starting now. As is known, even if the term of the Republic of Korea – U.S. Atomic Energy Agreement is extended by two years, it does not mean that the Park Geun-hye administration will stop its attempt to persuade the U.S. for uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of used fuel. Thus, we should preclude the signing of a compromise agreement if the Korea – U.S. situation changes, and we should strongly insist on the reinforcement of denuclearization, including in the case of Japan, which had previously been exempted.

Written by Bo-ah, Lee (Researcher :

2. New Report

Issues of hydroelectricity development project and identification of alternatives in the Mekong River region –mainly focused on Laos- (1)

The Laos government calls the country ‘Asia’s Battery’ because it has 63 hydroelectric power plants. During the construction of these plants, several hundred thousand local people were exposed to the dangers caused by an inadequate relocation plan. Moreover, the hydroelectric power dams were built in the lower Mekong area, mostly in Cambodia and Vietnam. In this scenario, a private Korean company (SK Engineering & Construction Co.,Ltd.) and a Korean government-owned company (Korea Western Power Co. Ltd.) signed an agreement with the Lao government for a dam construction project. This dam is Xe Pian - Xe Namnoi. Its capacity is 410 MW and its construction will start in Aug. 2013. However, 86% of its generated electricity will be exported to Thailand. The worst thing about this project, tough, is that most of the people who live in and near the Xe Pian - Xe Namnoi construction site belong to the minority group (Lahun), yet there is no plan to supply them with electricity from the dam. This means the local indigenous people especially minority group (Lahun), who are relatively vulnerable members of the Lao society, will suffer much damage from the construction of the huge dam, but the profits will be taken by developed countries.

Through this report, ECPI asserts that the general situation around Laos and the development of the hydroelectric dam were not for all citizens in Laos but only for surrounding national assets were only for a few people in Laos. Thus, several conclusions are described as followings.

◯ Firstly, even though tax revenue of the government increases through the large-scale hydroelectricity dam, there is a limit to the benefit that the poor in that region can receive. This is because the politics, economics, and societies of Laos are not stabilized yet. The large-size hydroelectricity dam could even cause destructions of local communities, migrations, and environmental problems in the counties (Vietnam and Cambodia) located around the downstream of Mekong River.

◯ Secondly, there is a limit to the electrical grid that ASEAN and GMS persists with. Even if this electrical grid is completely constructed, as long as the electricity is generated using the large-scale dam and fossil fuels, the result of the electrical grid will not be the expected energy efficiency or a sound response to the climate change but it will be a forceful sacrifice from a country like Laos to meet the demands of the other countries with a large amount of energy consumption. Not only construction of a stable electricity grid, but a transition to sustainable and righteous energy resources should be considered.

◯ Thirdly, it is very important to monitor the Development Bank and major donor counties. As mentioned in this report, it seems that Korea regards ASEAN as a new market for the export of nuclear electricity. Under such Korean companies at present remain with dam construction, but sooner or later such countries as Thailand with large energy consumptions will initiate a conversation regarding the construction of nuclear power plants.

◯ Fourthly, the construction of a large-scale dam is not the Green Official Development Assistance (ODA) project. The former Myong Bak Lee’s administration put emphasis on the “Low Carbon and Green Growth” and insisted on the green ODA. In addition, the former administration declared at the East Asia Climate Partnership (EACP) to assist in the green growth of the Asia region. However, it is hard to consider the construction of a large-scale dam as the green ODA, which indicates a contradiction. As the same context that green industry not only produces eco-friendly products but also creates jobs, gives appropriate compensation (wage), and bring environmental improvement, the green ODA should also bring positive effects to improve the quality of local resident’s life.

◯ Fifthly, due to the position of Laos being one of the poorest countries, the only way to get money for the national electrification appears to borrow a loan from the Development Bank or other countries. And taking into account such circumstance, it seems to be natural that Build Operate Transfer (BOT) and Independent Power Plant (IPP) methods are preferred. But Korea should use more caution in providing Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for the BOT and IPP project through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) method. Although PPP is a project that is operated by private companies, EDCF’s guideline should be absolutely complied. Required are a rigorous area analysis, disclosure of information, and democratic decision-making process. During the process of development, private companies should certainly comply with guidelines from individual institution (it could be either EDCF or ADB, or WB). And it is required to establish a strong and independent organization that can monitor and control over all these processes.

Written by  Kang-jun, Lee (Researcher :
Bo-young, Cho (Researcher :


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