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US Nuclear Expert Raises Concerns Over Safety of N. Korea's LWRs

Updated: 2011-12-14 00:00:00 KST
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The safety of North Korea's light water reactor under construction has been questioned by a renowned US nuclear expert, who first revealed the North's uranium enrichment facility to the world last year.
In Seoul to talk about his visit to North Korea last year, Stanford University professor Siegfried Hecker, indicated how important it is for a country to choose the right materials and construction methodology when building such reactors.
He added that lessons should be learned from past nuclear-related accidents, like the recent nuclear meltdown at Japan's Fukushima plant.


[Interview : Siegfried Hecker, Science & Engineering Professor
Stanford University] "I'm afraid emergency response and disaster management, if you just look at their record over the years of dealing with floods and droughts and fires, I don't think they are well prepared."

Although the North claims that the reactor will be used to generate electricity and not produce nuclear weapons, Hecker said that if Pyeongyang has the capacity to make low enriched uranium to fuel the reactor, it could also make weapons-grade high enriched uranium.
As for some 2-thousand centrifuges which North Korean officials showed him at Yongbyon last year, the expert said the North seems to have been enriching uranium for at least a decade.


[Interview : Siegfried Hecker, Professor of Mgmt. Science & Engineering
Stanford University] "There has to be another facility. That facility could potentially produce highly enriched uranium, we don't know."

The Stanford University professor then raised grave concerns over the possibility that North Korea may be involved in trade of nuclear materials and technology with countries like Iran and Syria.
On resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, Hecker said South Korea, the US, and China will particularly have to cooperate to increase the price the North would have to pay for keeping a nuclear arsenal, but also help the rogue regime build confidence and assurance about its regional security.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.


Reporter : yschoi@arirang.co.kr

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