South Korea told the IAEA in August that it had failed to declare
nuclear activities, including uranium conversion, uranium enrichment
and plutonium separation.
Seoul says the experiments were conducted, without the government's
knowledge, for academic purposes by ambitious scientists and started
in the early 1980s.
The IAEA immediately sent inspection teams to South Korea and
has just published an eight-page confidential report on their findings.
The report says the quantities of nuclear material used in the
experiments were not significant, but the nature of the activities
and the failure to declare them is a matter of serious concern.
It says a tiny amount of uranium was enriched that came close to
Inspectors visited several sites in South Korea and photographed
dismantled equipment and interviewed scientists.
The IAEA praised Seoul for active cooperation with the agency's
South Korea says it is committed to keeping the Korean peninsula
free from nuclear weapons and is not interested in a uranium enrichment
Gary Samore, former U.S. official and head of the International
Institute for Strategic Studies, says he believes this to be the
"Technically, there's no question that South Korea has the basic
scientific and industrial infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons
if they wanted to, that's not a surprise; it's a very advanced
country," said Gary Samore. "The only question is whether a political
decision is made on the part of the South Korean government and
I don't see the South Korean government at this point making such
a decision and it appears as though these experiments were very
much curiosity on the part of the South Korean scientists."
The IAEA says it still has to verify some of the evidence collected
during its investigation and is calling for more documentation
The 35-member IAEA board of governors meets in Vienna November
25 and will decide if South Korea's failures amount to a violation
of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.