South Korea President Details Plans to Exit Nuclear Power

This painting hand drawn by Andy Brown on a tablet shows the Korea Baseball Organization clubs LG Twins and Doosan Bears in action at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul

In addition to phasing out the country's use of nuclear energy, Moon has also pledged to reduce South Korea's use of coal-fired power generation. We will scrap the nuclear-centeric polices and move toward a nuclear-free era.

"The Fukushima nuclear accident has clearly proved that nuclear reactors are neither safe, economical nor environmentally friendly", Yonhap news agency quoted Moon as saying.

"Securing the safety of nuclear plants will be treated as a national security issue that will decide the country's destiny", Moon said in a ceremony marking the permanent shutdown of the country's oldest nuclear reactor, the Kori-1, in Gijang, Busan.

(.) While the decision to shut down the Kori-1 was made long before President Moon took office, the President himself has pledged to close down all nuclear power plants on Korean soil.

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Moon, who campaigned on an anti-nuclear policy, said another reactor, whose lifespan was extended by 10 years to 2022, would be decommissioned as soon as possible.

Moon said he will soon reach a consensus on the Shin Kori No 5 and Shin Kori No 6 reactors after fully considering their construction costs, safety and the potential costs of paying compensation.

Moon's speech was made at a ceremony marking the shutdown of the country's oldest nuclear power plant, Kori 1, almost 40 years after it went online.

But South Koreans' enthusiasm for nuclear energy quickly waned following the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns in its neighbour Japan.

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He hailed the shutdown of the reactor, calling it the start of the country's journey to becoming a nuclear-free nation and a safer South Korea.

With the country still setting its long-term energy plans, it is unclear how many will be replaced by new reactors.

South Korea is also one of the few countries that have exported its nuclear reactor technology, an area once seen by some of its construction companies as a new cash cow.

The former president Lee Myung-bak saw nuclear as an important source of clean energy, while Park wanted to increase the number of reactors to 36 by 2029.

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"South Korea is not safe from the risk of natural disaster, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact", he said. "We will make the energy industry a new growth engine for Korea", Moon said. The country is also searching for answers on how and where to permanently store spent nuclear fuel. The decommissioning will take at least 15 years and cost 643.7 billion won ($569 million), the energy ministry said.

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