“Currently there is no change to Korea's nuclear energy policy,” says the nuclear industry department of the ministry of knowledge and economy in an e-mail. “We are conducting safety checks on all 21 nuclear units.”
Ministry officials refuse to elaborate on that statement, while nuclear safety officials talk frankly of unresolved issues. They say potential foreign customers are reluctant to negotiate amid fallout from the disaster at Fukushima.
South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries, the company that manufacturers all Korea’s reactors, is in the midst of building reactors for export to the United Arab Emirates, a breakthrough $20 billion deal that was expected to turn Korea into a major reactor exporter. Nobody is talking about delaying or suspending that deal. Korea has put on hold sales pitches to other countries, ranging from Egypt to Malaysia.
“Countries want safer reactors with better regulatory bodies,” says Choi Jong-bae, director of science and technology policy at the ministry of education, science, and technology. “The current operating reactors are fully safe, but we didn’t think of this type of disaster in Japan. We have to add more systems.”