US, South Korea extend nuclear agreement for 2 years

A North Korean soldier looks at South Korea across the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), on April 23, 2013 in Panmunjom, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images).

WASHINGTON – The U.S. and South Korea are extending for two years their current civilian nuclear agreement and postponing a contentious decision on whether Seoul will be allowed to reprocess spent fuel as it seeks to expand its atomic energy industry.

Wednesday’s announcement is a setback to South Korea’s new leader, Park Geun-hye, who had made revision of the 38-year-old treaty one of her top election pledges, but it alleviates a potential disagreement between the allies when Park visits Washington in two weeks to meet with President Barack Obama.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the extension would provide more time for the two governments to complete the complex negotiations on a revised agreement that will recommence in June.