Special Reports

Special Reports are longer, often more technical, documents consisting of entire articles, government statements, and other documents relevant to security and peace in Northeast Asia.

NAPSNet, Special Reports

Update Review of Safety Aspects of Nuclear Power Program in the Republic of Korea

Recent probes have unveiled irregularities involving a parts supplier to Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., the state-run operator of the nation’s nuclear plants. Products were certified for use despite failing to meet quality standards and the revelation led to four nuclear reactors being shut down.

Concerns about the safety of South Korea’s nuclear plants have been long-standing, as the following report, prepared for the World Bank and UNDP in April of 1982, outlines. The findings of the 1982 review of the ROK’s regulatory aspects and operational safety of nuclear power plants were concerning, with the principal conclusions stating that it is “essential and urgent that there exist in the Republic of Korea a strong, independent and competent nuclear regulatory function as well as associated Korean safety laws, regulation, criteria, codes and standards.” It further state that “it is important to recognize that, by contrast to oil and coal power plants, operating nuclear power plants require continued upgrading in personnel training, equipment, and operational safety bases…”

This report was obtained by the Nautilus Institute under the Freedom of Information Act. Please click here to view other documents obtained through FOIA. 

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An Emerging Fukushima Model?

Andrew Dewit discusses Japan’s plans to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm near Fukushima as part of plans to reconstruct the area stricken by nuclear disaster in 2011. He writes “that if one looks closely at Fukushima, as well as Japan’s subnational governments in general, one finds plenty of political will and concrete action. This comes as something of a surprise, to be frank, as the general narrative on Japan and its power holders has been that the dominance of the nuclear-favouring Abe regime means the decline of the pro-renewable and anti-nuclear movement spawned by Fukushima. The evidence suggests, however, that Japanese power policy and politics is becoming decentralized and distributed.”

Andrew Dewit is Professor in the School of Policy Studies at Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator.

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Handbook to Support Assessment of Radiological Risk Arising From Management of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Commercial nuclear power plants around the world harness nuclear fission to produce electricity. At each plant, a fission reactor receives fresh nuclear fuel and discharges spent nuclear fuel (SNF). Although the SNF is “spent”, it contains a large amount of radioactive material. Some of that material could be released to the environment by an accident or an attack, causing harm to humans by exposing them to ionizing radiation. The potential for such harm is the “radiological risk” associated with SNF. Independent assessment of this risk could help societies to manage the risk. This report is designed as a handbook that could be used to support such independent assessment. The report has two main parts. The first part provides introductory material, and the second part sets forth a seven-step approach to assessing SNF radiological risk.

Gordon D. Thompson, Phil., is currently the executive director of Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, MA. In addition, he serves as Research Professor, George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University, Worcester, Massachussetts.

This handbook was produced for of the Institute’s Resilience and Security of Spent Fuel in East Asia project with the support of the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation.

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Propaganda, Fire-Thrashing, and the Risk of North Korean First-Use of Nuclear Weapons in Korea

In this report, Peter Hayes and Roger Cavazos “examine one North Korean account of the limited war it might fight to occupy Seoul, including the use of nuclear weapons or other unspecified WMD to neutralize American forces. We find that while this account makes for fine propaganda, when viewed through the lens of conventional capabilities, the plan is mainly smoke and mirrors. Nonetheless, if this account is indicative of the belief system of North Korea’s leadership, then it is truly alarming. It suggests that North Korea still adheres to military strategies and tactics that failed in the Korean War, and would fail again, only faster, should war break out in Korea. Moreover, it suggests a fantastic belief that somehow early escalation to nuclear war could make possible a conventional pre-emptive attack on Seoul.”

Peter Hayes is director of Nautilus Institute and Professor of International Relations at RMIT University in Melbourne. Roger Cavazos is an Associate of Nautilus Institute and retired US military intelligence officer.

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Consideration of the Possibility of Deep Borehole Disposal in Japan

In the following report, Tomochika Tokunaga provides an overview of the applicability of deep borehole disposal for radioactive waste in Japan. Tokunaga summarizes the history of deep drilling activities in Japan, the present high-level radioactive wastes disposal program, and describes the general concept of deep borehole disposal. Possible problems for deep borehole disposal related to the active migration of deep-seated fluids and stress conditions in and around Japan are also discussed.

Tomochika Tokunaga is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environment Systems, University of Tokyo.

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The ROK’s Nuclear Energy Development and Spent Fuel Management Plans and Options

In this report Jungmin Kang reviews the current status of and future prospects for nuclear power in the Republic of Korea. The ROK’s current nuclear capacity of 21.7 GWe will, under current plans, be approximately doubled by 2030. Given the current lack of pool storage capacity, Kang asserts that spent fuel storage in the ROK will become worse in the near future and that decisions regarding the interim storage of spent fuel will play key roles in shaping nuclear fuel cycle activities and development in South Korea.

Dr. Jungmin Kang is currently a visiting professor at Lee Byong Whi Nuclear Energy Policy Center, Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

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Foundations of Energy Security for the DPRK: 1990-2009 Energy Balances, Engagement Options, and Future Paths for Energy and Economic Redevelopment

The purpose of this report is to provide policy-makers and other interested parties with an overview of the demand for and supply of the various forms of energy used in the DPRK in six years during the last two decades:

  • 1990, the year before much of the DPRK’s economic and technical support from the Soviet Union was withdrawn;
  • 1996, thought by some to be one of the most meager years of the difficult economic 1990s in the DPRK; and
  • 2000, a year that has been perceived by some observers as a period of modest economic “recovery” in the DPRK, as well as a marker of the period before the start, in late 2002, of a period of renewed political conflict between the DPRK, the United States, and it neighbors in Northeast Asia over the DPRK’s nuclear weapons development program; and
  • 2005, also a year in which observers have again noted an upward trend in some aspects of the DPRK economy, as well as the most recent year for which any published estimates on the DPRK’s energy sector and economy are available.
  • 2008, the last year in which the DPRK received heavy fuel oil from its negotiating partners in the Six-Party talks; and
  • 2009, the most recent year for which we have analyzed the DPRK’s energy sector.

David von Hippel is an Associate of the Nautilus Institute. Peter Hayes is the Executive Director of the Nautilus Institute.

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The “Joint Facilities” Revisited – Desmond Ball, Democratic Debate on Security, and the Human Interest

Richard Tanter examines Ball’s writings on these facilities, setting them in the wider context of Ball’s work on nuclear targeting, the transnational UKUSA intelligence and security community, and the possibilities and limits of self reliance in Australian defence. Reviewing developments in US-Australian “joint facilities” in Australia in the past decade, the paper examines the asymmetrical alliance cooperation involved in the technological, organisational and doctrinal integration of Australian defence forces with those of the United States. It then argues for a reconsideration of the balance of costs and benefits of the US facilities and the accompanying alliance grand bargain. The paper concludes with a re-consideration of Ball’s reluctant conclusion to the question of whether, on balance, the retention of the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is in the Australian national interest and the wider human interest.

Richard Tanter is Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute, and professor in the School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Melbourne. Email: rtanter@nautilus.org.

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Summary Report: A New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia – Breaking the Gridlock Workshop

This summary report is based on the New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock workshop, which convened senior international experts in the field of security in Washington, D.C. on October 9th and 10th, 2012. The purpose of this meeting was to access Morton Halperin’s proposal that establishing a Northeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ) would strengthen peace and security in the region, reinforce the nuclear non-proliferation regime and facilitate nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula. The workshop built upon the findings of the East Asia Nuclear Security Workshop in 2011 to further explore the proposal’s limits, weaknesses and possible means of implementation.

Binoy Kampmark is a Lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Peter Hayes is the Executive Director of the Nautilus Institute and Richard Tanter is an Associate of the Nautilus Institute.

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An Initial Exploration of the Potential for Deep Borehole Disposal of Nuclear Wastes in China

Although China’s nuclear power industry is relatively young, and the management of its spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste is not yet a major concern, China’s commitment to nuclear energy and its rapid pace of nuclear generation capacity development require detailed analyses and planning of its future spent fuel management and nuclear waste policies. Specially, China is moving forward on its commitment to operate a closed nuclear fuel cycle, a policy that was first articulated in the 1980s. Figuring out how to manage and store the high-level nuclear waste resulting from reprocessing—a necessary part of a closed nuclear fuel cycle—could be a challenge for China.

This report reviews China’s spent fuel management policy, including its plans for reprocessing, including and China’s nuclear waste management plan, and explores the feasibility of deep borehole disposal (DBD) as an alternative to at-reactor, centralized surface- and near-surface storage, or mine geologic storage of spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste.

Yun Zhou is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom and International Security Program.

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