In what appears to be the
In March 29 remarks at a nuclear policy conference in
However, he said, electroreduction and electrorefining, the key elements of pyroprocessing, have “moved to the point that the product is dangerous from a proliferation point of view. So, for that reason, pyroprocessing is reprocessing, and that’s part of the problem.”
Previous public statements on pyroprocessing by the Bush and Obama administrations had indicated proliferation concerns about the technology, but had not been as unequivocal as
Pyroprocessing differs from PUREX (plutonium-uranium extraction) reprocessing, which has been used in nuclear energy and weapons programs around the world, because the plutonium separated from spent fuel by pyroprocessing remains mixed with other elements. South Korean officials have argued that this difference makes pyroprocessing more proliferation resistant than traditional reprocessing.
The current U.S.-South Korean nuclear cooperation agreement, which is due to expire in 2014, gives the
The two countries have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to conduct a 10-year joint feasibility study on pyroprocessing and other options for handling spent fuel. The study is to be conducted in parallel with negotiations on other aspects of nuclear cooperation.