• The United States and the Republic of Korea have signed a successor agreement for civil nuclear cooperation, also known as a “123 Agreement.”
  • The United States and the ROK have had a strong partnership in the field of peaceful nuclear cooperation for more than half a century, and the United States is pleased that the ROK has become one of the world’s leading nations in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • The agreement would enhance the strategic relationship between the United States and the ROK across the spectrum of political, economic, energy, science, and technology issues.
  • The agreement would establish a new standing, High-Level Bilateral Commission for our two governments to work together to advance mutual objectives such as addressing spent fuel management, an assured stable fuel supply, nuclear security, and enhancing cooperation between the U.S. and ROK nuclear industries.
  • The new Commission would allow for deepened cooperation and more regular interaction between our two governments on the state of nuclear energy in both countries and allow us to account for new developments in technology, spent fuel management, security, and safety.
  • The agreement would reinforce the importance of our ongoing Joint Fuel Cycle Study to review and identify appropriate options for addressing spent fuel management challenges, and facilitate cooperation on research and development (R&D) in this context, including R&D at specified facilities on the use of electrochemical reduction.
  • The new agreement also would provide the ROK with consent to produce radioisotopes for medical and research purposes, as well as to conduct examination of irradiated fuel rods using U.S.-obligated material.
  • The agreement would allow for the continuation and expansion of our robust and mutually beneficial trade relationship.
  • For example, the United States supplies enrichment services to the ROK to support its fabrication of nuclear fuel, and the ROK supplies the United States with significant reactor components such as pressure vessels.
  • Due to this trade relationship, the contract between the ROK and the United Arab Emirates to build four reactors has already brought hundreds of new jobs and approximately $2 billion in additional revenue to U.S. nuclear suppliers.
  • The agreement would allow this type of cooperation to continue and flourish in the future.
  • The agreement would be fully reciprocal, requiring the United States to undertake most of the same obligations as the ROK. The only exceptions relate to different obligations that each country has under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The New 123 Agreement Would Strengthen Nonproliferation Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Korea

  • Like all our 123 agreements, this agreement contains essential provisions related to nonproliferation and nuclear security, and would thereby enhance the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.
  • The terms of the U.S.-ROK 123 agreement strongly reaffirm the two governments’ shared commitment to nonproliferation as the cornerstone of their nuclear cooperation relationship.
  • The ROK has a strong track record on nonproliferation and the ROK has consistently reiterated its commitment to nonproliferation. It has been an extremely active partner with the United States across a wide breadth of bilateral and multilateral activities designed to ensure the implementation of the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation worldwide.
  • The agreement would update the nonproliferation conditions from the prior agreement and fully meet the nonproliferation requirements of Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, as amended by the 1978 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act (NNPA).
  • The agreement would provide for the cooperation between the United States and the ROK to be subject to the relevant IAEA safeguards requirements, assurance that all activities under the agreement will be for peaceful purposes only, and express reciprocal consent rights over any retransfers or subsequent reprocessing or enrichment of material subject to the agreement.

The ROK Is a Strong Nonproliferation Partner

  • The ROK is one of the United States’ strongest partners on nonproliferation and has consistently reiterated its commitment to nonproliferation.
  • It is a member of the four multilateral nonproliferation regimes (Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group, and Nuclear Suppliers Group, for which it served as Chair in 2003-2004 and will do so again in 2016-17) and recently completed its term as chair of the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.
  • The ROK became a State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on April 23, 1975, and has in force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • The ROK has also demonstrated its commitment to nuclear security and addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism, including through hosting the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and being an active contributor to the Summit process, and through its leadership in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
  • The ROK has been an active participant in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) since 2009, having hosted regional and global meetings and two operational exercises. It has also conducted outreach to states that have not yet endorsed PSI.
  • The ROK has been a consistent advocate of nonproliferation in the IAEA Board of Governors, including support for strengthening safeguards and calling to account Iran and Syria for violations of their safeguards obligations.
  • The ROK has also been a strong and close partner in addressing the security and proliferation threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, including at the IAEA and the UN Security Council. The United States and the ROK continue to cooperate closely in our shared objective to achieve North Korea’s complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearization and to bring North Korea into compliance with its commitments under the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future