South Korea said on July 5 that it will restart construction on two nuclear reactors and continue to operate nuclear energy facilities that are already running.
The energy ministry said on July 5 that it would also look into how to treat "high-level radioactive waste."
Yoon, who assumed office on May 10, had promised to boost investment in the nuclear industry and revive its status as a key exporter of safe nuclear reactors. Energy companies in South Korea have been expanding their nuclear energy businesses after Yoon promised to increase nuclear power plants.
Boosting nuclear energy marks a sharp policy reversal from that of the previous government, led by then-President Moon Jae-in, who had pushed to phase out nuclear power over some 45 years. Construction work on the two nuclear reactors had been stalled since 2017 when Moon took office.
Exporting Nuclear PowerIn addition to restarting construction on the two nuclear reactors, the South Korean Energy Ministry said it plans to export 10 nuclear reactors by 2030 and also develop a small modular reactor with a $300 million investment by the same year.
Yoon and other officials recently traveled to Europe to attend the G-7 and NATO summits, where Yoon promoted South Korean nuclear energy in meetings with officials of Poland and the Czech Republic, both of whom are seeking contractors for their new nuclear power plants.
"For the past five years, we saw a contradictory situation where at home, we were seeking to go nuclear-free, but overseas, we were pursuing exports of nuclear power plants," he said, referring to the policy of the Moon administration. "The nuclear industry was practically on the brink of collapse, but now we plan to resume nuclear power exports."
The energy ministry said it also seeks to reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports to 60 percent by 2030 from 81.8 percent in 2021. It also noted that phasing out coal, a type of fossil fuel, must be done in a "rational manner" while considering supply-and-demand conditions.
South Korea is the world's fourth-largest oil importer after China, India, and Japan, according to state-run Korea National Oil Corp., while its state-run Korea Gas Corp. is the world's largest single corporate buyer of liquefied natural gas, according to a Korea Gas Corp. spokesperson.