According to unnamed military officials, South Korea might not have started its nuclear industry to build weapons, but if it wants, it could develop nuclear weapons in six months using existing technology alone, reports the Munhwa Ilbo.
What makes this claim possible, said the Munhwa Ilbo, is that Korea’s got 23 commercial reactors in operation, which makes Korea one of the world’s top five commercial nuclear powers. This also means Korea can produce tons of highly enriched nuclear material for weapons, be it highly enriched uranium or, with reprocessing facilities, plutonium.
As I like to say, happiness is a complete fuel cycle.
The Munhwa Ilbo notes that the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) extracted 6 g of plutonium from a research reactor in 1982, and in 2004, KAERI won Korea some IAEA inspections after it was learned they’d separated 0.2 grams of enriched uranium in 2000. South Korea currently has about 10,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at nuclear power stations around the country.
Some SNU nuclear engineering professor told the Munhwa Ilbo that Korea’s laser enrichment technology is pretty top notch, and that in an emergency, Seoul has the financial and technical capacity to pump out nuclear weapons in a short amount of time.
Marmot’s Note: Boy, this isn’t the kind of thing you’d want your military officials to say to the press. Unless it’s the kind of thing you want your military officials to say to the press.