S.Korea to form task force on nuclear talks with U.S.
South Korea will form an interagency task force to prepare for its preplanned talks with the United States on Seoul's nuclear activity, the foreign minister said Monday, reported Xinhua.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said the foreign ministry will be engaged in negotiations with the U.S. held to persuade the nation to "allow" South Korea to pursue a broader commercial nuclear program, including the "recycling" of spent fuel.
"We will make preparations for the start of related consultations (with the U.S.) as early as in the latter half of this year," the minister said at a National Assembly committee session.
He said that South Korea is pursuing the so-called Pyro process, a new technology aimed at "recycling" used fuel, not reprocessing it.
"It is impossible to extract weapons-grade plutonium from the process," Yu said to calm worries that South Korea's expanded nuclear move may send the wrong signal to the international community.
The foreign ministry's ambassador for energy and resources Cho Hyun will be in charge of the envisioned task force, the minister added.
South Korea, currently operating 20 nuclear power plants, is banned from reprocessing spent fuel under a 1974 agreement with the United States, which is to expire in 2014.
The two countries are in need of a new pact, which should be completed by around 2010 as it takes some time for domestic procedures, local media expected.