India drops plan to allot site for reactors from Korea

Nuke ties with Seoul to be limited to R&D on GenNext reactors

India drops plan to allot site for reactors from Korea

Safety concerns prompted India to drop its plan to allot a site to South Korea’s state-owned nuclear energy company to build an atomic power plant in India.

As the crises-hit atomic power industry of South Korea suffered yet another setback with the death of three workers engaged in building a plant at Ulsan in the East Asian country on Friday, New Delhi announced that its nuclear cooperation with Seoul would remain limited to working together to develop next-generation reactors.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Seoul from Sunday to Tuesday will see India and South Korea agreeing on broad contours of joint research and development on nuclear reactors as well as of training of scientists and personnel in each other’s country.

Swaraj and her South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se will co-chair the eighth joint commission meeting in Seoul. She will also have meetings with defence, trade and energy ministers of South Korea, apart from calling on the East Asian country’s President Park Geun-hye during her visit.

New Delhi, however, is unlikely to accede to Seoul’s request for allocating a site for Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company (KHNPC), a subsidiary of state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation, to build an atomic power plant with APR-1400 reactors in India. India is cagey due to growing doubts over safety standards of the nuclear power plants in Korea, sources told Deccan Herald in New Delhi.

Three workers died on Friday after apparently inhaling toxic gas at a construction site at Ulsan in South Korea, where a nuclear power plant is being built by the KHNPC.

Unknown hackers last week targeted the nuclear power plants in South Korea and leaked documents, including layouts of atomic power plants and personal information of workers. The KEPCO was also hit by a scandal last year following a revelation that safety certificates for a large number of components procured by it for the APR-1400 reactors over the last nine years had been forged.

Officials of India and South Korea earlier this month discussed the possibilities implementing the bilateral Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement they had signed in July 2011.

“There was a fairly detailed exchange of views on what would be the areas in which we can see cooperation in the field of civil nuclear cooperation. We identified these as research and development, training of our scientific personnel and working together on next generation reactors,” Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists on Friday.

When  former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited South Korea in March 2012, Park’s predecessor Lee Myung-bak had requested him to allocate a site in India for the KEPCO to build its reactors.

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