North Korean Nuclear Reactor Safety: The Threat No One is Talking About
December 14, 2017
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As reported by Matt Korda at 38 North.

The introduction to the article states:

The ability of North Korea to safely operate its nuclear reactors, according to many experts, is increasingly being called into question given the North’s isolation and lack of safety culture. Pyongyang’s ability to respond to a nuclear accident in a timely fashion will make the difference between a small-scale event and a catastrophic disaster. And while the actual contamination would be localized, the lack of transparency from North Korea in dealing with the situation is likely to cause political panic in the region in excess of the actual radiological exposure and environmental impact. The opening of nuclear safety talks with the North to help prevent such an accident from occurring would provide a rare opportunity for regional dialogue and could pry open the door for realistic and productive discussions of North Korea’s nuclear program.

There are some dubious statements in the article, such as the downplaying of the potential magnitude of a reactor or radioactive waste disaster in North Korea (see above: "...while the actual contamination would be localized, the lack of transparency from North Korea in dealing with the situation is likely to cause political panic in the region in excess of the actual radiological exposure and environmental impact").

Just as dubious is the following:

If a crisis were to occur, North Korea’s secretive nature would also hinder any kind of collective response to a nuclear accident. Reliable information would be scarce, as the regime would certainly attempt to suppress any reporting on the extent of the damage. Regional panic would set in, and governments in South Korea, China and Japan would feel immense pressure to respond. Milonopoulos and Blandford imply that such panic is essentially unavoidable; it was widespread despite Japanese transparency in the wake of Fukushima. (emphasis added).

The notion that the Japanese central government, and Tokyo Electric Power Company, were "transparent" in the immediate and even long term aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe would be laughable, if it weren't so tragically and painfully mistaken.

But beyond such flaws, the article does make some important points.

Article originally appeared on Beyond Nuclear (http://www.beyondnuclear.org/).
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