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Results of the Second Plenary Session of the High Level Bilateral Commission (August 20)

 

The second plenary session of the High Level Bilateral Commission was jointly held in Washington D.C. on Thursday, 16 August by Korea’s 2nd Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs CHO Hyun and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.

 

The session was attended by around 50 delegates, including Director-Generals of atomic energy from the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea, and high-level representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of State, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and National Security Council.

 

The governments of the U.S. and Korea reaffirmed their determination to extensively discuss matters of mutual interest in the field of atomic energy, and continuously develop a comprehensive, strategic nuclear partnership through the new ‘Agreement for Cooperation between the ROK Government and the U.S. Government concerning Civil Use of Atomic Energy.’

 

In particular, the parties agreed that bilateral cooperation will not only help their companies to advance to atomic energy markets in other countries, but also contribute to global non-proliferation and energy security.

 

- To this end, the parties agreed to hold talks on cooperation for exporting nuclear plants to other countries through follow-up discussions of the nuclear plant export working group under the High Level Bilateral Commission.

 

Furthermore, the parties decided to strengthen cooperation in nuclear safety decommissioning, while exploring ways to expand personnel exchange of atomic experts within their own nuclear policy frameworks.

 

After being briefed on the cooperative projects of the four working groups, the co-chairs held in-depth discussions on the main agendas of the groups.

 

The ‘Working Group on Spent Nuclear Fuel Management’ decided to examine progress and continuously carry out the three joint studies and three information exchange projects launched for the safe transport, storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

 

The ‘Working Group on Stable Supply of Nuclear Fuel’ reported the progress and future plans of the ‘joint research on stable supply of nuclear fuel,’ and discussed the future direction of cooperation.

 

The ‘Working Group on Promoting Exports of Nuclear Power Plants’ agreed to examine progress of existing joint research, such as the ‘Guide to comparing exports control systems of Korea and the U.S.’ and ‘Analysis of global nuclear power plant market,’ and to have talks on bilateral cooperation for exporting nuclear plants to other countries.

 

The ‘Working Group on Nuclear Security’ reported that various cooperative projects have been carried out based on accumulated experiences, such as the hosting of the Nuclear Security Summit, and agreed to lead efforts to strengthen global nuclear security through cooperative projects, such as minimizing the use of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) in research nuclear reactors, holding the 2019 Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT)workshop in Korea and policy discussions on nuclear security scenario.

 

Furthermore, the co-chairs were briefed by nuclear consultative bodies ROK-USA Joint Standing Committee on Nuclear Energy Cooperation(JSCNEC)*and Joint Fuel Cycle Study(JFCS)**, and on the status of bilateral cooperation among nuclear safety regulatory institutions.

 

* JSCNEC: Joint Standing Committee on Nuclear Energy Cooperation

** JFCS: Joint Fuel Cycle Study

 

The co-chairs took note of the new technology agendas launched in the field of safety and decommissioning at the 36th JSCNEC held in April, and asked for continued cooperation in these areas.

 

In addition, the co-chairs assessed the efforts made by the researchers in carrying out JFCS, and asked them to complete research on time and effectively.

 

The co-chairs also agreed that given high public expectations on nuclear safety, the two countries need to continuously make joint efforts in improving nuclear safety and strengthening transparency, and asked for continued bilateral cooperation between nuclear regulatory institutions.

 

Held for the first time since the launch of the new governments of Korea and the U.S. in 2017, the plenary session was recognized as a meaningful opportunity to reaffirm the will to cooperate in the strategic bilateral nuclear partnership, and have honest, practical discussions on matters of mutual interest.

 

In particular, the two countries explained their governments’ policy directions on energy to promote mutual understanding.

 

The parties agreed to hold the third plenary session in Seoul next year, and encourage the working groups to carry out matters discussed in this session.

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