South Korea and USA on 3 March launched the High Level Bilateral Commission (HLBC) to facilitate strategic dialogue and technical exchanges on peaceful nuclear cooperation under the framework of the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement signed in 2015. It will be jointly chaired by US deputy energy secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and South Korean vice minister for foreign affairs Cho Tae-yul. The senior-level forum will examine the management of used nuclear fuel, the promotion of nuclear exports and export control operations, assurances of nuclear fuel supply, and nuclear security.
The 20-year co-operation agreement was signed after several years of tense negotiations to redefine the terms of the 1973 agreement which restricted South Korea's nuclear fuel cycle activities. The 2015 agreement provides more freedom for South Korea to manage its nuclear fuel cycle and opens up the future possibility of uranium enrichment and reprocessing, activities that were strictly prohibited under the 1973 agreement.