With all of the attention focused on North Korea, South Korea is under investigation by the IAEA for experiments to procure weapons grade fissile
materials. The Republic of Korea (ROK) claims that it had no knowledge of these experiments and that they were done in the pursuit of scientific
curiosity. The ROK claims that only a few milligrams of Plutonium was extracted in 1982 and several grams of highly enriched uranium in 2000. The ROK
claims that all of the material has since been lost.
IAEA starts ROK probe
Updated: 2004-09-17 08:39
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is sending a second inspection team to the Republic of Korea (ROK) this weekend to delve into its
suspicions about the nation's past nuclear experiments.
The dispatch of another team in less than three weeks is evidence of how seriously the UN agency regards the recently disclosed plutonium extraction
and uranium enrichment, no matter how small their amounts may have been. On Monday, Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA director general, termed the failure to
report them immediately as a "matter of serious concern."
But the second round of inspections should not be a cause of too much concern to the ROK Government if the nuclear scientists involved conducted the
experiments out of curiosity, as it claims. Instead, this should serve as an occasion for the government to clear any doubts the UN agency may harbour
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The IAEA discovered that South Korea had been extracting weapons grade plutonium after discovering traces of plutonium at a nuclear research
facility. The South Koreans then also admitted to covert uranium enrichment experiments. Is the South also involved in a Nuclear Weapons bid?
The Plutonium extractions in 1982 and the enrichment experiments in 2000 predate the North's alledged attempts do the same. If the North had
intelligence on these early South Korean experiments, could this possibly be a good reason why the North may be pursuing similar advancements. Could
this not also be rationalized as a genuinly defensive measure?
To date, the IAEA has more hard evidence of the ROK's covert nuclear experiments than they ever had of one occuring in the DPRK prior to 2002 when
the IAEA was expelled from the North. In retrospect, if the IAEA was doing such a sloppy job monitoring the facilities in the ROK and enforcing unique
restraints on the DPRK, restraints which were not being enforced on the ROK, then why should the DPRK play such a crooked one-handed game? In the Old
American West, cheating at a hand of poker could get you killed. The stakes in this game are far greater.
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[edit on 6-11-2004 by Rotwang]