New nuclear reactor deal with US could give Seoul the fuel it needs to indigenously develop long-coveted nuclear submarines.
“More recently, South Korea’s nuclear sub drive may have gained new impetus by rival North Korea’s efforts to build similar boats as part of an undersea-based nuclear arsenal.”
In a potential crucial strategic development, the United States and South Korea agreed last month to share small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technology, a move that could pave the way for Seoul’s indigenous development of nuclear-powered submarines.
The publicly announced agreement marked a change in longstanding US policy toward South Korea, dating back to 1972, that restricts the sharing of sensitive nuclear technology.
During the recent Joint US-South Korea Summit held in Seoul, South Korea formally joined the US-led Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program.
While SMRs have been used in nuclear submarines for decades, most studies on the technology have focused on civilian purposes due to their maximum power-generating capacity of less than 300 megawatts.