Many of you know there is a slew of bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreements (“123”) that need to be renewed, and among them is one with South Korea. I recently wrote an op-ed in The Hill arguing that the North Korean nuclear issue is irrelevant to 123 discussions and point out the real dilemmas US policymakers are faced with when negotiating all civil nuclear cooperation agreements hereafter.
The original title was “There’s No ‘North Korea’ in the 123” but was changed by the editor (this is not unusual) to “South Korea’s Commitment to Nonproliferation.”
Some highlights are:
The North Korean nuclear problem shouldn’t be an argument to justify suspicions of South Korea’s quest for enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. And the 1991 South-North Joint Declaration to never enrich, reprocess, or station nuclear weapons is a non-starter to dissuade Seoul in 123 negotiations.
Before jumping to assumptions on Seoul’s nuclear ambitions, intentions and context should be considered.
The real dilemma for the administration is politics versus policy versus U.S. commercial interests.
Click here for the full piece.