Today, six Korean civic groups including the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and Green Korea United presented an opposition statement to the Japanese government’s plan to begin the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant, demanding the plan withdraw.
At the press conference held in front of the Japanese embassy, the civic groups pointed out that the operation of the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant would catalyze the world’s nuclear proliferation. They also argued that it will deepen distrust between Japan and other nations sided with the Japanese right-wing shift, which has recently been strengthened, and could end up causing security unrest. In addition, they urged the withdraw of the operation plan of the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant at once, explaining that it will become an obstacle to solving North Korea's nuclear problem and the denuclearization in the Korean peninsula.
Korea Youth Corps, Green Korea United, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea, Peace Museum, and Korean Federation for Environmental Movement attended the press conference today.
Prior to the press conference, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy sent the Korean government an open letter on September 2ND, to clarify its position over the Japanese government's decision to start the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant.
Below is a statement from the press conference:
Withdraw the Operation Plan for the Rokashomura Nuclear Reprocessing Plant
The Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant in Aomori, Japan, is planned to start reprocessing 400t of atomic fuel in earnest in December, 2005. Once the reprocessing starts, 4t of plutonium will be separated from 400t of used-nuclear fuel within 2 years. Following this period, the nuclear reprocessing plant will gradually increase the amount of fuel capacity to be reprocessed, reaching the separation rate of 8t of plutonium from 800t of used-nuclear fuel every year, by 2011. This is equal to the amount of plutonium needed to produce the same type of 1,300 atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki.
There is a rising concern that the operation of the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant will worsen the local stability in North East Asia, and furthermore will threaten the international non-proliferation regime. Nevertheless, the Japanese government insists on starting the nuclear reprocessing plant. Such a move by Japan will put a brake on the international efforts for nuclear disarmament and cause new security unrest.
Therefore, we urge the Japanese government to reconsider its plan and to withdraw the plan for the operation of the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant at once.
First, the operation of the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant runs counter to the international efforts to stop nuclear proliferation and to furthering nuclear disarmament. Controlling uranium enrichment facilities and plutonium reprocessing complexes at an international level is considered the most important task to prevent nuclear-proliferation. Under the circumstance, Japan is the only state trying to produce a significant amount of plutonium, by operating 'commercial' reprocessing plants on a large-scale, among the non-Nuclear-Weapon-States (non-NWS). This deepens the degree of inequality within the other non-NWS who have committed to not reprocess nuclear materials, and will stir up the international non-proliferation efforts by stimulating the other non-NWS.
Second, it will deepen distrust between states in North East Asia and catalyze a new arms competition. Japan can already develop nuclear weapons very quickly if they make the political decision to do so. They reserve over 40t of plutonium. Japanese government says they will use all the plutonium for nuclear fuel, but in the next 5 years they will no longer have reactors where the plutonium nuclear fuel is placed so they will keep tens of tons of their plutonium in stock piles. A large-scale Japanese stock of plutonium will become a new factor of unrest in North East Asia, along with the Japanese move toward a right-wing shift and militarization.
Third, the operation of the Rokashomura reprocessing plant will be an obstacle against nuclear non-proliferation efforts regarding the North Korea nuclear issue in North East Asia. At the six party talks, which were just resumed, the Korean Peninsula is working to realize the principle of a nuclear weapons free zone-both Koreas commit to acquiring neither enrichment and reprocessing facilities- in which was agreed in the 'Declaration of South and North Korea on the Denuclearization' in 1992. At this critical conjuncture, if Japan operates the large-scale plutonium reprocessing plant, South Korea as well as North Korea may question, 'why, in North East Asia, is only Japan allowed to reprocess nuclear fuel?', causing further obstacles in the effort to solve the problems with North Korea in a quick and peaceful way.
The Japanese government needs to pay attention not only to domestic matters, but also to the internationally rising concerns, and withdraw the operation plan of the Rokashomura reprocessing plant.
In addition, the civic groups, which came here today, assure to cooperate with Japanese and international civic groups in order to force the Japanese government to withdraw the operation plan of the Rokashomura nuclear reprocessing plant.