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The Lightbulb or the Bomb? The Politics of Nuclear Spent Fuel in South Korea


The importance of nuclear power plants is growing apace in South Korea and the Lee Myung-bak government is eager to expand its study of cutting-edge nuclear technologies tied to electricity generation. The United States, which works closely with South Korea on nuclear issues, is reluctant to allow such research to move forward because of its potential to create atomic weapons. This paper describes the historical, political, and economic bases for the differences in opinion between these longtime allies.

Jeannette Lee is a first-year M.A. student at SAIS, concentrating in Energy, Resources, and the Environment. As an undergraduate at Yale University, she majored in History, studied abroad in Harbin, China on a Light Fellowship, and interned in the environmental technologies section at the U.S. Commercial Service in Shanghai. She later worked as an Associated Press journalist in New York City, Hawaii, and Alaska, covering a wide variety of beats, including the domestic energy industry. Since moving to Washington in 2008, Jeannette has worked as a writer for Atlantic Media Company and as an editorial consultant for both the World Bank and an education policy institute.