A team of civil nuclear experts from India is in South Korea to explore avenues of “broad-based cooperation” in the sensitive domain, according to diplomatic sources.
Experts from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India are attending a two-day professional workshop in Seoul.
The event is focussed on the entire civil nuclear spectrum ranging from research to operational safety. The Indian delegation is also expected to visit a nuclear power plant in Busan and a heavy industry firm.
South Korea is known to be keen on showcasing its capabilities in the fabrication of commercial nuclear reactors, in particular mega-power units. Seoul is also aware of India’s efforts at developing the fast-breeder technology among other civil nuclear aspects.
The genesis of these exchanges between the experts on both sides can be traced to some diplomatic efforts that predated a recent agreement at the summit level, said sources.
However, the accord between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on January 25 provides a new context. The two leaders “shared the view that nuclear energy can play an important role as a safe, sustainable and non-polluting source of energy.” And, they “agreed to facilitate the development of a framework for bilateral civil nuclear cooperation.” Such cooperation was envisioned to include research for peaceful purposes and not just electricity generation.
South Korea, which operates at least 20 commercial nuclear reactors, has in recent weeks publicised its success in bagging a contract for building four such units in the United Arab Emirates.