• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

IAEA Chief in Korea: Nuclear Energy, Safety and Safeguards


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with Republic of Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul. (Photo: Office of the President Republic of Korea)

The Republic of Korea (RoK) is a staunch supporter of the IAEA’s mandate, a strong regional partner for nuclear non-proliferation and a major player in the nuclear energy sector, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said this week during his visit to RoK. In a three-day trip, Mr Grossi met with the country’s leaders — including President Yoon Suk Yeol — and visited some of RoK’s nuclear institutes and universities.

“The Republic of Korea is a leader in nuclear energy and its peaceful application for development,” Mr Grossi said in an in-depth exchange with President Yoon on Thursday evening. The two spoke on a range of issues, including the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which Mr Yoon fully supported.

In their meeting, Mr Grossi and Mr Yoon also discussed nuclear safety in the region, as well as developments in the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — RoK’s northern neighbour.

President Yoon expressed concern about developments in DPRK and asked the IAEA to participate in deterring nuclear provocation and achieving denuclearization by strengthening nuclear monitoring and inspection readiness. Mr Grossi shared this concern and said that he would make every effort to safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

In his statement to the Board of Governors last month, Mr Grossi said the continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear programme was a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and called upon the country to, “comply fully with its obligations under relevant UN Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in the full and effective implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to resolve all outstanding issues, especially those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country.”

In Seoul, Mr Grossi also met with Foreign Minister Park Jin and Science and Information Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Lee Jong-Ho. They discussed enhanced cooperation between the IAEA and RoK in security, energy and other IAEA initiatives utilising peaceful nuclear applications, such as Rays of Hope for improving access to radiotherapy in Africa and beyond and ZODIAC for combating future pandemics.

The Republic of Korea has extensive expertise, technical know-how and a very promising future in the nuclear field.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi

A promising future for nuclear

During his trip, Mr Grossi visited the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, roughly 170 kilometres south of Seoul, to take part in the opening ceremony of the International Symposium Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the RCA Regional Office — a regional cooperative agreement that promotes the use of nuclear science and technology for development and peaceful uses. Mr Grossi described the RCA as an essential part of joint efforts to realise the goal of atoms for peace and development in Asia and the Pacific.

Delighted to visit KAIST, Mr Grossi said the institutes in Daejeon, such as the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), produced an impressive amount top-level research in the nuclear field and thanked First Vice Minister of Science and ICT Oh Tae-Seog for a warm welcome there. At KAIST, Mr Grossi delivered a lecture on the future of nuclear energy and peaceful uses of nuclear science for development to nuclear engineering students.

“The Republic of Korea has extensive expertise, technical know-how and a very promising future in the nuclear field,” Mr Grossi told the students. RoK currently has 25 nuclear power reactors in operation with a further three under construction. Last year, 28 per cent of the country’s electricity production came from nuclear. In July, President Yoon set a target for nuclear to provide a minimum of 30 per cent of the country’s electricity in 2030.

At KAIST, Mr Grossi also met with Whang Joo-Ho, CEO of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power — a subsidiary of the Korea Electric Power Corporation, the country’s largest electric utility. The two spoke about small modular reactors (SMRs) and an IAEA initiative launched in June to accelerate the development and deployment of SMRS, the Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative (NHSI).

“The new impetus of the Republic of Korea’s nuclear energy programme will help it achieve its decarbonization objectives, as shown by the start of commercial operations of Shin-Hanul-1,” Mr Grossi said, referring to the 1400 megawatt (e) reactor that entered commercial operation this month.

Mr Grossi also received from Busan University of Foreign Affairs an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Global Studies. In receiving the honour, Mr Grossi shared how the IAEA promotes peace and development and emphasized the importance of achieving sustainable peace in the Korean Peninsula and in the world.

Stay in touch