Unique Nuclear Allies: The New U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
October 1, 2015
After years of intense negotiations, including a two-year extension, the United States and the Republic of Korea finalized their framework agreement for nuclear cooperation in early summer 2015. The agreement, which was formally submitted to the U.S. Congress on June 16, 2015, will enter into force by December 2015 unless Congress passes a resolution of disapproval or conditions its approval. With so many other issues to distract Congress this fall, the chances are excellent that the agreement will quietly enter into force. But its implementation will bear close watching over the next few years. The significant pains that U.S. negotiators took to confer special status upon South Korea may have unintended consequences for U.S. nonproliferation policy. The inclusion of “pathways toward a possible U.S. government decision to grant advance consent to the ROK to enrich or pyroprocess U.S.-obligated nuclear material” ensures that the negotiations haven’t ended – in fact, they’ve just begun.