South Korea nuclear revelation -- Greenpeace urges end to production of nuclear weapons material

Press release - 2 September, 2004
News that South Korea has uranium enriched far beyond that needed for peaceful nuclear use can do nothing other than add more fuel to the proliferation fire in the Korean Peninsula, warned Greenpeace, today. Given the threat implied by the South Korean uranium enrichment programme, Greenpeace renewed its call for South Korea, North Korea and Japan to halt all programs aimed at production of weapons-usable materials (highly enriched uranium and plutonium) and to renounce the use of such materials.

Far from underscoring the effectiveness of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Nuclear Weapons Safeguards Programme, as claimed, it highlights the Agency's three decade failure to see the military intentions behind the mask of South Korea's civil nuclear programme.

Earlier this week, Greenpeace made a submission to an IAEA Expert Group, meeting in Vienna, to discuss ways of reducing the threat from sensitive nuclear facilities -- we proposed a simple solution, close and dismantle them all. Greenpeace demands an immediate ban on the production of fissile nuclear materials and a phase out of nuclear power.

Greenpeace has for many years highlighted the threat of South Korean nuclear weapons ambitions and warned in the 1990s of their clandestine programme based around the Daeduk/Taejon Centre south of Seoul. South Korea should immediately disclose all details of its enrichment program (prohibited under the 1992 Denuclearization Agreement with North Korea); how much plutonium it has separated at facilities at Daeduk/Taejon; as well as what it has done with blueprints and technology developed under its weapons program authorized by former President Park.

This revelation should immediately end the ambitions of the European nuclear reprocessing industry (Cogema and British Nuclear Fuels) to sign contracts for plutonium reprocessing and weapons usable mixed oxide fuel supply contracts with South Korea.

"It is a stark warning about the nuclear threat on the Peninsula and the wider north east Asian region. Japan currently has a plutonium stockpile of some 5 tonnes of plutonium, North Korea is believed to have already acquired nuclear weapons, China, the region's only 'official nuclear power' will also be watching and deciding how to respond.

"US and international non-proliferation policy in the region is ineffective and unsustainable in permitting some countries access to nuclear materials while blocking others, and at the same time putting some countries under a 'defensive' nuclear weapons umbrella: its a policy courting disaster," said Greenpeace nuclear weapons expert Shaun Burnie.

Notes: Copies of the Greenpeace submission to the IAEA are available at: