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South Korea Must Revise U.S. Nuclear Accord Terms, Group Says

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea should revise a bilateral nuclear accord with the U.S. so that it can export reactor technology in an expanding global atomic power plant market, a Seoul-based private research institute said.

The agreement, which restricts South Korea from exporting the technology independently, must reflect the country’s status as the world’s fifth-largest reactor operator, Jang Woo Seok, a research fellow at Hyundai Research Institute, said in a note.

The world’s nuclear power project construction market may reach as much as $1.15 trillion by 2030 with the addition of up to 350 reactors, the institute estimated. South Korea had to seek the consent of the U.S. after winning its first order in 2009 to export nuclear reactor technology to the United Arab Emirates, according to the note.

Talks with the U.S. on revising the agreement, signed in 1974, started in October 2010. The government should seek to shorten the terms of the accord, expiring in 2014, according to Hyundai Research.

Under the agreement, South Korea is also not allowed to reprocess nuclear power plant fuel until 2020. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy has said the country’s temporary waste repository will run out of space in 2016.

South Korea started trial operations of its first nuclear power plant in 1977, and currently operates 21 reactors.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sangim Han in Seoul at sihan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at aprakash1@bloomberg.net.

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