eoul (AFP) March 14, 2011 President Lee Myung-Bak boasted Monday of the safety of South Korean-built nuclear reactors as explosions at an -hit atomic plant in Japan raised fears of a nuclear disaster. The South Korean leader attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of nuclear power plants during his trip to the United Arab Emirates and said the country would have "top-class" plants.
A South Korean consortium has won a $20.4 billion contract to build four nuclear plants in the UAE.
"South Korea has the top level of nuclear power plants in terms of safety and efficiency, and they will become a good model in the Middle East," Lee said in a statement quoted by Yonhap news agency.
South Korea operates 20 reactors, which generate some 35 percent of its electricity needs, and is eager to export its expertise as a new growth engine for the economy.
It plans to build 12 new nuclear reactors in the next 14 years. But two explosions at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant raised public concerns in South Korea over nuclear accidents.
The state-run Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said it was closely monitoring radiation levels across the country, but said Japan's quake-damaged reactors would not pose a serious radiation risk to the peninsula