27 November 2002 – Countries making up an international nuclear forum will embark on an international project aimed at developing next-generation nuclear reactor models in the second half of next year, the South Korean Ministry of Science and Technology said today.

The fourth-generation reactor program, dubbed “Gen IV,” is to minimize the impact of nuclear power on the environment as well as enhance safety and efficiency of nuclear reactors. The new models will be developed by 2025 and installed at nuclear power plants by 2030, according to ministry officials.

A meeting of experts from seven countries, including the United States and Japan, held in Washington D.C. on November 14-15, agreed to establish technical and steering committees in preparation for research and development [R&D] of the Gen IV project. The countries are all members of the Gen IV International Forum [GIF], a ten-member country nuclear research group created in January last year. Members are South Korea, the U.S., Britain, Japan, France, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Switzerland.

In a show of interest in the multinational programme, nuclear experts from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] and the European Union [EU] also participated in the meeting in their capacity as observers. South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, however, did not send delegations to the international conference.

Worsening economic conditions mean Brazil and Argentina are not likely to join the scheduled R&D project, according to sources familiar with the programme. During the meeting, they agreed to appoint one expert each for technical and steering committees by the end of this month in view of six different nuclear reactor R&D models. The participating countries each are expected to choose one favourite R&D area and embark on the project in the second half of next year after winding up preliminary studies on the models.