INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Doe Secretary Bodman Reviews Energy Partnership with Korea

Published: Wed 20 Dec 2006 05:42 AM
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SUBJECT: DOE SECRETARY BODMAN REVIEWS ENERGY PARTNERSHIP WITH KOREA
DURING DECEMBER 12-13 VISIT
SUMMARY
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1. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman visited South Korea December
12-13. In meetings with the Minister of Commerce, Industry and
Energy and the Deputy Prime Minister for Science and Technology,
Secretary Bodman reviewed U.S.-Korea collaboration, and sought to
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advance it in areas such as the Megaports Initiative and the Global
Nuclear Energy Partnership. He later joined Commerce Secretary
Gutierrez for a joint event highlighting a U.S.-Korea public-private
partnership in the area of clean energy technology that is helping
to improve Korea's air quality. End summary.
MEETING WITH COMMERCE MINISTER
------------------------------
2. Secretary Bodman called December 13 on the ROK Minister of
Commerce, Industry and Energy, Chung Sye-kyun on December 13.
Bodman expressed pleasure with the U.S.-Korea partnership on energy
issues, citing specifically Korea's participation in the FutureGen
zero-emissions power generation demonstration project and in the
ITER fusion demonstration project. Bodman expressed U.S. hope that
Korea would join in the Megaports Initiative designed to monitor
movements of dangerous radiological materials, and offered technical
assistance and equipment if Korea chooses to participate. Minister
Chung promised to review the Megaports issue with other relevant
ministries.
3. Minister Chung expressed hope that U.S. policy will contribute
to stabilizing the world price of oil, noting that the United States
is the largest consumer of imported energy. Secretary Bodman said
that the five-party Energy Ministerial scheduled for later in the
week in Beijing would give the U.S. and Korea an opportunity to
examine the issues confronting the major consuming nations,
including ways to encourage market-based decision-making. Chung
inquired whether there would be further meetings in the five-party
format; Secretary Bodman replied that would depend on whether
concrete progress results. Chung noted that the participation of
India and China, each with rapidly rising energy needs, promised to
make the forum useful.
4. Minister Chung inquired about U.S. efforts to spur a revival of
the nuclear power industry. Secretary Bodman sketched U.S.
incentives to the industry, but said that long-term storage of
nuclear waste remains a challenge. He described the Global Nuclear
Energy Partnership (GNEP) as an effort to encourage nuclear power
use worldwide while ensuring strict adherence to nuclear
nonproliferation. He expressed U.S. pleasure with Korea's interest
in participating in GNEP. Alluding to Korea's desire for a special
status in GNEP (based on the fact that while it does not control the
full fuel cycle, neither is it a simple consumer of fuel produced
elsewhere), Secretary Bodman said that he expected that a solution
would be worked out that would allow Korea to take advantage of its
technical and research capabilities. Minister Chung said that Korea
agrees with the principles underlying GNEP. He appealed for U.S.
understanding of Korea's need for a special status within GNEP and
sought the Secretary's personal attention to the issue.
5. Turning to liquefied natural gas (LNG), Chung noted a surge in
U.S. demand and worried about strains in the international market.
Bodman noted that new legislation expected to be signed by the
President would encourage increased production in the continental
shelf. While that might buy time, Bodman said, there is a need to
find alternative sources of energy, including nuclear, biofuels,
solar, wind, and coal combined with carbon sequestration. He
invited Korean experts to examine U.S. efforts in these areas.
MEETING WITH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR S
------------------------------------------
6. Secretary Bodman next called on the Deputy Prime Minister (and
Minister of Science and Technology), Kim Woo-sik. The Secretary
expressed appreciation for Korea's engagement in energy-related
partnerships including ITER. Kim noted that the Korean "KSTAR"
tokamak (fusion research chamber) will be completed in 2007, with
operations to begin in 2008. He said it would have been impossible
to build without U.S. collaboration, and noted that many of the
Korean engineers involved were educated in the United States. Kim
invited the Secretary to participate in the KSTAR inaugural ceremony
planned for September, 2007, noting that the publicity around such
an event could help cement long-term public support for fusion
research.
7. Minister Kim agreed with the Secretary that support for science
should be nonpartisan. He said that science had received strong
support in the Roh Moo-hyun administration, noting that the science
budget is up 10.5 percent over 2005. He stated that his ministry is
working on 10-year plans for major technologies, and promised to
share them with the U.S. when the plans are completed.
8. Turning to GNEP, Secretary Bodman said the U.S. seeks an
approach that makes full use of Korea's considerable research
capabilities in the nuclear field. Kim expressed appreciation for
U.S. vision and leadership in GNEP, and said that Korea agrees with
the objectives and principles of the partnership. He pointed out
that Korea conducts research on pyroprocessing with international
cooperation and called for further consultations on how to
incorporate that research into the initiative.
9. Responding to Secretary Bodman's comment that U.S.-Korean
collaboration in science and technology has been excellent and
mutually beneficial, Kim remarked that he is convinced that the U.S.
will remain the leading power in S, and mentioned biotech as one
area for enhanced bilateral cooperation. Secretary Bodman said that
DOE is working on putting biotech to work in achieving energy
solutions, and offered a briefing on that effort whenever the
Minister next visits the United States.
CLEAN ENERGY EVENT
------------------
10. Secretary Bodman joined Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez,
visiting Seoul at the same time, for an event highlighting a unique
public-private partnership that has substantially contributed to the
improvement of the air quality in Korea. The event featured buses
and other heavy equipment powered by clean compressed natural gas
(CNG), using technology supplied by a U.S. firm, Woodward Governor
of Rockford, Illinois, through its Korean partner, NGVI. More than
11,400 buses, or nearly 40 percent of the buses in Korea, have been
replaced with the clean-burning CNG buses, and more than 100 garbage
trucks have been converted to CNG. The Korean government has
recently announced plans to convert a total of 23,000 buses by 2010.
Both Secretary Bodman and Secretary Gutierrez made brief remarks
welcoming this sort of collaboration, where U.S. technology has
direct benefits for the populace. They then inspected one of the
Seoul City CNG buses and a CNG-powered street cleaner with the media
in tow, and obtained good press coverage.
VERSHBOW
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