How South Africa and Israel are maneuvering for the bomb

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Inside a ring of enemies put defiance, obduracy, fear of the future. Combine with pride, wealth, advanced skills, religious conviction. Result: a determination to go nuclear.

South Africa and Israel are the two prime examples of such "garrison states," but Iraq, Taiwan, and South Korea share their determination.

Urgently needed are ways of convincing such states that nuclear weapons are not the ultimate answer, experts feel. These countries need to be shown that national security can be guaranteed in other ways: alliances, economic and military aid, conventional armed forces, and assured supplies of nuclear fuel and technology for reactors for peaceful uses.

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* Cleverly hidden in a valley halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria is a center where research is being done that has brought South Africa closer than ever before to being able to build and detonate its own nuclear weapons.

Officials have said they could enrich natural uranium from the 0.7 percent of the fissile (i.e., able to be split) isotope of uranium 235 that occurs in nature to 45 percent.

Sources in the United States say the South Africans have enriched to 80 percent. More than 90 percent is ideal for nuclear explosive, but a bang can be made from less.

So far, South Africa says it is not building nuclear bombs, but it is deliberately imprecise in its public statements. So is Israel. Both states possess what diplomats call the "nuclear option" -- whether they possess bombs or not, their enemies think they do, or that they could make them very quickly. And both have strong reasons to hint they hold the ultimate big stick in reserve as a military and diplomatic weapon.

"Either a South African bomb is already made and exists in separate pieces that could be bolted together -- or a bomb could be made in six months," comments a knowledgeable European source familiar with Pretoria's plans.

* South Africa has hired Israeli consultants to advise on the safety aspects of its first two commercial reactors, which are being built by the French consortium Framatome.

"You'd think it logical for them to ask French experts, or European ones, or American," comments one well-placed source. "Why Israeli?"

This kind of development fuels speculation among Arab and Muslim states, in black Africa, and throughout the United Nations that Israel and South Africa are helping each other's nuclear programs in an awesome mix of Israeli knowhow and South African uranium and enrichment expertise.

* In an interview with this correspondent, a senior South African official has dropped an intriguing hint that South Africa intended to test some kind of powerful explosive device in the Kalahari Desert in late 1977.

Then Soviet spy satellite cameras detected a hole in the Kalahari of the kind usually dug for a nuclear test.

Former President Jimmy Carter ordered US satellite cameras switched to the scene. They confirmed the reports. The US and the Soviets orchestrated a diplomatic campaign against Pretoria to stop a possible test. South Africa furiously denied any plans to test. No detonation occurred.

In an interview, Pretoria's ambassador to the US, Donald Sole, denied outright that South Africa wanted or needed a nuclear weapon. But asked about Kalahari he said, "Well, we were going to test something -- but not a weapon."

He would not be drawn further. He went on to doubt that nuclear power would play a large role in his country's total energy picture between now and the end of the century.

A number of other scientists and diplomats were keenly interested when I asked for their comments on the ambassador's remark. All speculated at length on whether South Africa had, in fact, gone ahead with a nuclear test in September 1979, when a US surveillance satellite picked up a flash of light in the darkness of a predawn southern Atlantic sky. No solid evidence to confirm such a test has yet been produced.

The ambassador's remark to me could be read as an indication that South Africa had intended testing what it would have called a "peaceful" nuclear device, as India did in 1974. The US sees no difference between a "peaceful" and a "military" explosion -- both are lethal.

In 1977, Pretoria was extremely displeased with the Carter administration's stress on human rights and its determination to cut off nuclear fuel to any country that did not accept full international inspection on its nuclear facilities.

* Another development could illustrate one of the tools the US holds for convincing other countries that, even though they build nuclear weapons, they don't have to explode them.

The background: President Reagan has switched signals toward Pretoria. He ordered a US veto on a Security Council resolution in August condemning the South African raid into Angola. He has sent diplomatic signals recognizing South Africa's strategic location, anticommunist stance, and key role as a supplier of industrial minerals.

Pretoria has been pleased.

Now comes what could be a significant move. The president of the South African Atomic Energy Board, Dr. J. W. L. de Villiers, confirmed in an interview that Pretoria is "exploring" with the US what amounts to a nuclear trade-off.

South Africa might agree to international safeguards on the uranium enrichment plant it is building -- if Washington agrees to release a long-term supply of enriched uranium for South African power reactors. US supplies are blocked today because South Africa does not accept full safeguards.

"I'm not saying we will accept safeguards," Dr. de Villiers said in his office at Pelindaba. "I'm not saying we will never accept them. Things change. . . . We are exploring the situation. We want to know just what's involved: How many inspectors? Do they have to go right into the plant? What do they have to see? Will they interfere with operations?"

Dr. de Villiers made it clear South Africa could not push ahead with more reactors (its first two are nearing completion) without an assured supply of fuel.

"You don't build a reactor unless you have 40 years' supply of fuel," he said. A 1,000-megawatt reactor can require 150 tons of fuel a year.

Under an existing contract, South Africans ship $30 million worth of uranium at a time to be enriched at Oak Ridge, Tenn. Oak Ridge does the work, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can't grant an export license because of the 1978 Nuclear Nonproliferation Act, which bars nuclear exports to countries refusing full safeguards.

Technically, South Africa takes title to the newly enriched uranium but not physical possession. The US is not requiring payment for the enrichment until the issue is settled.

All this gives South Africa a problem. It needs fuel for the two reactors under construction at a place called Koeberg (pronounced "koo-berg") near Cape Town.

It is building a large enrichment plant with its own carefully developed process. The plant could enrich enough fuel for Koeberg, but it will not be ready until 1985 at the earliest.

The first Koeberg plant is to be loaded in the middle of next year. But with what? If fuel doesn't come from the US, where is it to come from? China? France? Italy? (Italy has 1,100 excess tons of low-enriched uranium available these days.) Scientists the world over are watching for clues.

While I was in South Africa recently, Pretoria confirmed it had obtained enriched uranium fuel for the first Koeberg plant, but did not give the source. Johannesburg television said it was not "from France or the United States."

Dr. de Villiers would not provide an answer. He said the South African electricity Supply Commission had placed the order. He appeared not to rule out France, however.

This newspaper understands that France is, indeed, supplying the enriched uranium. Technically, Paris can argue that it is not: The fuel is said to be coming from a large enrichment plant called EURODIF. This is a joint venture involving France, Italy, Iran, Spain, and Belgium. France has a 51 percent share in all enriched fuel produced during the first 10 years of operation -- and the plant itself is located near Avignon in the Rhone Valley.

Although France has no enriched uranium to spare, Spain and Italy both have surpluses. A number of scientists say that either Spain or Italy could have agreed to provide enriched fuel for the French to make into fuel rods for Koeberg.

"I go for Spain," said one inside source.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna is trying to find out the source. Supplier countries are supposed to notify Vienna of uranium sales. But , in fact, it is extremely difficult for Vienna officials to discover where shipments of enriched uranium finally land. Many ways exist to falsify documents and otherwise cover tell-tale tracks.

It was clear from Dr. de Villiers that the French fuel is not a long-term answer to South Africa's nuclear fuel problems.

At one point he said, "We have to reach agreement with the United States and the Vienna agency at some point if Pretoria is to plan a nuclear energy program for the future."

Although South Africa possesses some 530,000 tons of uranium reserves, they could be gone in 50 years or so if mining continues to extract 10,000 tons a year from now on.

Besides, South Africa makes money from selling uranium. If it enriches its own, it loses income. Experts assume it won't be able to enrich enough in its own plant to cover the losses. The new plant will also be expensive to run.

All this gives South Africa a powerful incentive to talk to the US about safeguards.

In August, Pretoria sent the first signal: A two-man team visited Portsmouth, Ohio, accompanied by a South African Embassy man from Washington and a State Department official. They walked through construction that one day will be an enrichment plant. They saw nothing that was secret.

In October, four US observers visited Pelindaba. They were surprised at the amount of information they were given and the extent of their tour. (But they were not shown a pilot enrichment plant black Africans say makes weapons-grade fuel.)

Now Dr. de Villiers confirms that talks are continuing.

Many hurdles remain. No large enrichment plant in the world yet has full safeguards: The process is extremely tricky. "Why should we be the first?" Dr. de Villiers asked.

Even if South Africa should agree, US government policy is that countries buying US enriched fuel should not only accept safeguards but also should first sign the Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970. South Africa has refused.

A possible way out: If Pretoria accepts safeguards on its plant, President Reagan could simply drop the treaty-signing requirement. There would be criticism, but it could be done.

"Safeguards are a big step for us," de Villiers said flatly. But South Africa wants to plan another reactor complex for Durban.

Dr. de Villiers estimates that the cost of nuclear-generated electricity has already been brought down to the cost of coal-generated electricity at Cape Town. Coal fields are 600 miles north, and shipments, as well as transmission by power lines, are getting more expensive.

A strong political reason is also pushing Pretoria to locate energy sources farther south: If black African states launch guerrilla attacks in northern areas, or if South African black tribes rebelled, coal fields could be at risk.

Whether for the record or because he has deep doubts himself, Dr. de Villiers said he doubted Mr. Reagan could alter provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978.

He repeated previous South African denials of any plan to build nuclear weapons. He denied all knowledge of the 1977 Kalahari incident or of the 1979 flash in the sky. He was clearly concerned that I quote him accurately, reflecting a typical Pretoria caution when dealing with reporters from abroad, especially Americans asking about nuclear policies.

But he did volunteer a good deal about South African hopes and plans. "We cannot go into a big nuclear program," he said, "unless we have assured supplies of reactor fuel."

The message for the United States, and for others opposed to the spread of nuclear weapons, could be this: If a country needs outside supplies badly enough , it might cooperate.

Nonetheless, South Africa retains the ability to enrich uranium at its small pilot plant at Valindaba and would fight to exclude that from safeguards (inspection would be carried out by experts based at the IAEA in Vienna).

The white Afrikaner government is beleaguered, suspicious, apprehensive about the future. It doesn't mind speculation that it could detonate a nuclear explosion at any time. Publicity like that could give black Africa pause and make the US redouble efforts to strike a deal on safeguards.

Any probe into South Africa and Israel uncovers live coals of speculation about what really did happen in the south Atlantic in the early morning darkness of Sept. 22, 1979.

Two monitoring ("bhang") meters on a US Vela satellite recorded a "signature" of light consistent with a nuclear explosion near the earth's surface, at 3 a.m. local time. ABC-TV reported it. The State Department cautiously confirmed Oct. 25 it had "an indication suggesting the possibility that" a low-yield nuclear explosion had taken place.

Headlines blared. Scientists have disagreed ever since.

A CIA panel, including Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, concluded it could have been a nuclear explosion. Black African and Arab states insist it showed South Africa and Israel collaborating in the darkest ways.

Sources have told this newspaper that a Naval Research Laboratory report concluded that hydro-coustic observations were consistent with a nuclear test.

But the White House, in a controversial report conducted by Dr. Frank Press, assessed the Navy lab report and other evidence and concluded the data were "ambiguous." The light the Vela had picked up was closer to the satellite than to the earth's surface, it said. The report asserted that the flash "probably was not from a nuclear explosion."

Those who accept that view told me standard practice is to test at dawn, to keep the radioactive cloud in sight for as long as possible. Not only was the 1979 flash detected at 3 a.m., they say, but no conclusive proof has ever been found of the radiation that would have resulted from a nuclear blast.

Other, more suspicious, scientists told me there was always a 50-50 chance of failing to detect low-yield radioactivity, especially when the precise test site was unknown.

"I think it was a clever joint test, South Africa and Israel," said one expert. "But I can't prove it."

The argument, the controversy, and the fears remain.

The ambassador gestured with one hand, as if to wipe the whole topic away. "Where would we use a bomb, anyway?" Ambassador Sole demanded in a Washington interview.

"Look at the psychological approaches nations take towards a bomb program, which costs a tremendous amount of money. Pakistan wants it because the Indians have it. Arab countries want it because they think Israel has it.

"South Africa doesn't have that kind of threat. Where would a bomb be useful? If it's some kind of guerrilla war you're talking about, we couldn't use one at all, not in our own country."

The worry of black African and other states at the UN was summed up this way in an August 1980 report for the UN Disarmament Center:

"The diplomatic and political costs of South African acquisition and deployment of nuclear weapons would be high, quite possibly disastrous, if those weapons ever were used.

"Nevertheless, desperate to preserve the apartheid system, South Africa's leaders may eschew a rational weighing of costs and gains. Instead, they might try to justify the acquisition of nuclear weapons as a last resort to attempt preserving white supremacy by intimidating neighboring countries or as a means to demoralize black South Africans, and, conversely, to buttress the morale of the white population."

South African officials dismiss such fears.

Israel is frequently linked to South Africa on nuclear matters. Black African and other states think Israel (visited by then South African Prime Minister John Vorster in 1976) has been giving Pretoria nuclear know-how for years.

Prime Minister Menachem Begin flatly denied allegations of Israeli collaboration in a 1979 test, saying in February 1981, "We have nothing in common with it."

Speculation is fueled partly because most experts believe Israel has been producing plutonium for weapons ever since its French-supplied reactor at Dimona began operating in December 1963. No US or other outside inspector has ever been allowed to examine dimona.

With an annual plutonium production rate of some 10 kilograms (estimated by Swiss expert Theodor Winkler), Israel could have produced as many as 20 bomb cores.

Sit down in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and New York and talk to Israeli experts about the Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970, which it refuses to sign, and they make these points:

"Look, the treaty is fine for countries at peace. It works for Sweden and Norway. But in the Mideast, no one is really at peace. Iran and Iraq are fighting. Iraq calls for help in building a nuclear bomb. [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat is dead, assassinated.

"What we need is some mutual confidence in the whole area. We say, start by agreeing to making the Mideast a nuclear-free zone. That means all of us, Arabs and Jews, must sit down and talk to each other.

"What do our critics say? 'Sign the Nonproliferation Treaty first.' So we are supposed to trust all our security to the hands of others, and accept the three ideas of the nonproliferation system: not to make nuclear weapons, full-scope safeguards, visits by outside inspectors.

"But how can we have confidence in Arabs who say they want to destroy us?

"Look at Iran. For two years after Khomeini came to power, he allowed no IAEA inspectors at all into Iran." (The IAEA says it was only for one year and adds that there was "nothing to inspect since Iran was in revolution.")

". . . Well, maybe not much was going on. But what if the Shah had had nuclear weapons in there? What happens in Iraq if [President] Saddam Hussein is killed like Sadat was? Any country can withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty in three months, you know.

"We have said and we keep on saying that Iraq could have had nuclear weapons by 1984-85. That's why we felt we had to destroy the Osirak reactor in June.

"Actually, many an Arab delegate to the UN was privately glad we raided Osirak -- the Syrians, for instance, are no friends of the Iraqis. Nor are the Iranians, of course. They condemned us in public. In private, intermediaries tell us it was a different story."

For Israel, Arab recognition is a precondition to any progress. It could lead to discussions on surveillance of one another's nuclear operations, they suggest, or other ideas.

Iraq's nuclear plans were set back several years by the Israeli raid. Iraq runs the risk of another Israeli bombing as it rebuilds Osirak. But it says it is determined to press on.

President Hussein is highly ambitious to lead the Arab world. He openly referred to what he said was the need for an Arab bomb last June 23.

"Regardless of Iraq's intentions and capabilities at present and in the future," Hussein told his Cabinet in a speech broadcast by Baghdad Radio, "any country in the world which seeks peace and security, respects peoples, and does not wish those peoples to fall under . . . oppression . . . should assist the Arabs in one way or another to obtain the nuclear bomb. . . ."

This statement, condemned by US Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. soon afterward, claimed Arabs needed bombs "to confront Israel's existing bombs."

As long as Iraq lacks a sense of security and its own identity, and has a vaultingly ambitious leader, it will be tempted to pursue nuclear weapons.

Scientists and analysts contacted for this series say Iraq's nuclear program has definitely been "suspicious," though they don't agree with Israel that Iraq was on the verge of obtaining a nuclear device.

Iraq first tried to buy a large gas graphite reactor from France. Paris, which had stopped making that model, sold the Osirak instead: Iraq remains heavily dependent on outside help. As a new Congressional Research Service report for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Arms Control points out, Iraq "lacks chemical, metallurgical, and electrical and electronics manufacturing industries needed to establish a nuclear industry."

The report indicates the range of contacts Iraq has made with outside suppliers:

Brazil: a 1980 agreement for technology, reactors, training.

Italy: "hot cell" units, heavily shielded, where elements can be handled by remote control.

Portugal: 120 tons of uranium in 1980, 130 more tons reported set for 1981.

One US intelligence analyst commented: "Iraq will be able to build a nuclear bomb by 1990 if it rushes."

Analysts are watching France and Italy with particular concern. French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson said Nov. 9 in Paris that talks on safeguards for Osirak were continuing. Italy is said to be renegotiating the agreement under which it has been building the hot cells.

US experts fear that a hot cell building could be made so large that a reprocessing unit could be fitted inside -- "invisible" because of the heavy shielding on the walls. They don't say that this is happening -- only that it could happen.

Four other names are high on any list of nuclear threshold states: Argentina. Brazil. Taiwan. South Korea.

The next (and final) article in this Monitor series will cover the two South American giants. Meanwhile, most analysts seem to feel that the dangers posed by Taiwan and South Korea can be contained, for the moment at least, because of one basic fact:

Both rely heavily on US protection for survival -- and Washington firmly opposes their acquiring nuclear weapons.

Both have highly sophisticated scientists and access to advanced technology. Both are signers of the Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970. Both are members of the IAEA in Vienna.

South Korea has one large (564-megawatt) power reactor, supplied by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1977, under safeguards. Two even bigger ones are under construction. The biggest, Wolsung I, comes from Canada complete with the latest safeguard device: a "bundle counter" to detect how many times uranium fuel rods are removed.

If they are removed every few months, it could be to extract plutonium for weapons. To generate electricity, rods are left in place for a "long burn" of 18 months or more.

"Nuclear weapons will only look attractive to South Korea if the credibility of the US commitment to the country's defense will vanish," writes Swiss analyst Winkler.

However, Seoul is said to remain convinced it needs to be able to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods if its ambitious nuclear energy program is to grow. It supports plans that might lead to a regional reprocessing plant in the Pacific area. So far the concept remains only in the planning stage.

Taiwan was a full IAEA member until 1972, when Peking took over its seat. In theory, this means less comprehensive safeguards for Taiwan.

In fact, the US keeps strict watch over Taiwan's two power reactors (US supplied) and two more under construction. Both Canada and the US have built research reactors -- and safeguard them.

Taiwan has tried to set up its own reprocessing plant, at Lung Tan. But the US brought heavy pressure to bear in 1976 after suspicions arose that Taipei was using it to extract plutonium from fuel rods in its Canadian TRR research reactor. Reluctantly, after secret talks, Taipei dismantled the plant under IAEA supervision. Mr. Winkler says that since then, Dr. Liu Hai-Pei has directed laser isotope enrichment studies (extremely advanced and sophisticated) at Chung San.

Taiwan might reconsider its nuclear choices if Peking significantly boosts its own defenses or comes to believe that the US defense shield is unreliable.

NUCLEAR BALANCE SHEET Pakistan India Power reactors One Three (plus five *) Research reactors One Four (no safeguards) Plutonium produced, 1980 30 kg 220 kg Plutonium on hand by 1984 (projected) 605 kg 2,531 kg Reprocessing plants Two * Two (plus one *) Enrichment plants One * None IAEA member Yes Yes Nonproliferation Treaty signer No No Has accepted some of IAEA's Yes Yes safeguards, but not NPT's Scientists Very good Very good Delivery systems Canberra bombers, Canberra bombers, for a possible bomb Mirage Ills, Jaguars, MIG-21s, Mirage 5s, SLV-3 missiles MIG-19s, C-130s

Israel Power reactors None Research reactors Two (one not under safeguards) Plutonium produced, 1980 100-150 kg Plutonium on hand by 1984 (projected) Unknown Reprocessing plants One Enrichment plants None IAEA member Yes Nonproliferation Treaty signer No Has accepted some of IAEA's No safeguards, but not NPT's No Scientists Excellent Delivery systems F-15s, F-4Es, A-4s, for a possible bomb Mirage Ills, F-16s, Kfir C-2s; Lance and Ze'ev missiles

South Africa Libya Power reactors Two * None Research reactors One One * Plutonium produced, 1980 None None Plutonium on hand by 1984 (projected) Unknown Unknown Reprocessing plants None None Enrichment plants One (plus one *) None IAEA member No (expelled) Yes Nonproliferation Treaty signer No Yes Has accepted some of IAEA's No safeguards, but not NPT's Scientists Very good Very few Delivery systems Canberra bombers, Tu-22s, MIG-23s, MIG-25s, for a possible bomb Buccaneers, MIG-21s, Mirage Ills, Mirage F-1s, C-130Hs, Boeing 707, Mirage Ills Ilyushin 76s, Scud B missiles, Frog-7 missiles

Iraq South Korea Power reactors None One (plus two * plus six **) Research reactors One (plus one *) Two Plutonium produced, 1980 None Unknown Plutonium on hand by 1984 (projected) Unknown Unknown Reprocessing plants None None Enrichment plants None One IAEA member Yes Yes Nonproliferation Treaty signer Yes Yes Has accepted some of IAEA's safeguards, but not NPT's Scientists Small but growing Very good numbers Delivery systems Tu-22s, Ilyushin 28s, F-4 jets, Nike Hercules for a possible bomb MIG-23Bs, surface-to-air missiles Scud B missiles, Frog-7 missiles

Taiwan Power reactors Two (plus four *) Research reactors Five Plutonium produced, 1980 Unknown Plutonium on hand by 1984 (projected) Unknown Reprocessing plants None Enrichment plants One *** IAEA member Yes Nonproliferation Treaty signer Yes Has accepted some of IAEA's Yes safeguards, but not NPT's Scientists Very good Delivery systems F-104Cs, Honest for a possible bomb John battlefield support missiles

* Under construction

** Planned

*** For research only Sources: Library of Congress, Theodor Winkler (International Institute of Strategic Studies, London) By Joan Forbes, staff cartographer reactor from France. Paris, which had stopped making that model, sold the Osirak instead: Iraq remains heavily dependent on outside help. As a new Congressional Research Service report for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Arms Control points out, Iraq "lacks chemical, metallurgical, and electrical and electronics manufacturing industries needed to establish a nuclear industry."

The report indicates the range of contacts Iraq has made with outside suppliers:

Brazil: a 1980 agreement for technology, reactors, training.

Italy: "hot cell" units, heavily shielded, where elements can be handled by remote control.

Portugal: 120 tons of uranium in 1980, 130 more tons reported set for 1981.

One US intelligence analyst commented: "Iraq will be able to build a nuclear bomb by 1990 if it rushes."

Analysts are watching France and Italy with particular concern. French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson said Nov. 9 in Paris that talks on safeguards for Osirak were continuing. Italy is said to be renegotiating the agreement under which it has been building the hot cells.

US experts fear that a hot cell building could be made so large that a reprocessing unit could be fitted inside -- "invisible" because of the heavy shielding on the walls. They don't say that this is happening -- only that it could happen.

Four other names are high on any list of nuclear threshold states: Argentina. Brazil. Taiwan. South Korea.

The next (and final) article in this Monitor series will cover the two South American giants. Meanwhile, most analysts seem to feel that the dangers posed by Taiwan and South Korea can be contained, for the moment at least, because of one basic fact:

Both rely heavily on US protection for survival -- and Washington firmly opposes their acquiring nuclear weapons.

Both have highly sophisticated scientists and access to advanced technology.Both are signers of the Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970. Both are members of the IAEA in Vienna.

South Korea has one large (564-megawatt) power reactor, supplied by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1977, under safeguards. Two even bigger ones are under construction. The biggest, Wolsung I, comes from Canada complete with the latest safeguard device: a "bundle counter" to detect how many times uranium fuel rods are removed.

If they are removed every few months, it could be to extract plutonium for weapons. To generate electricity, rods are left in place for a "long burn" of 18 months or more.

"Nuclear weapons will only look attractive to South Korea if the credibility of the US commitment to the country's defense will vanish," writes Swiss analyst Winkler.

However, Seoul is said to remain convinced it needs to be able to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods if its ambitious nuclear energy program is to grow. It supports plans that mig

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