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NEI Praises House Vote to Extend US-South Korea 123 Agreement

Sept. 18, 2013—The nuclear energy industry has praised a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives to extend for two years the current agreement between the United States and South Korea on civil nuclear energy cooperation.

Richard Myers, NEI’s vice president for policy development, planning and supplier programs, said the nuclear energy industry applauds the move, which will provide “ample opportunity” for both countries to finalize a long-term agreement.

Such bilateral cooperation pacts, known as “123 agreements” after a section in the Atomic Energy Act, are a prerequisite for significant nuclear cooperation, including the physical transfer of reactors, reactor components and other nuclear materials under license for commercial, medical and industrial purposes.

“The Republic of Korea is a major commercial nuclear energy trading partner with the United States. The two-year extension will reinforce the U.S.-ROK commercial partnership, bolster our long-standing bilateral relationship, and reaffirm our shared commitment to nonproliferation,” Myers said.

The Senate must now take up the provision to extend the current agreement, which expires March 19.

“Given the industry’s reliance on long-lead items and long-term contracts for nuclear components, fuel and services, prompt extension of the agreement is vital to avoid trade disruptions that would negatively affect thousands of U.S. jobs and billions of dollars in exports,” Myers added.

“The current Section 123 agreement has served the United States well since 1974. An extension will provide a window of opportunity to conclude a successor agreement that meets the needs of both nations without disrupting what has proven to be a safe and successful civil nuclear trade relationship,” he said.

For an article that lists major nuclear projects involving both nations, see Nuclear Energy Overview, May 9.