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N. Korea enacts law to shore up radioactive safety
SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has enacted a set of laws aimed at better managing its nuclear facilities, a copy of the new law showed Thursday, illustrating the nuclear-armed country's efforts to prop up radioactive safety.

   The radioactive contamination protection act, adopted on Aug. 29 last year, mainly deals with safe management of radioactive substance and nuclear facilities and disposal of radioactive wastes as well as monitoring of environmental effects, according to the copy of the law obtained by Yonhap News Agency.

   The law, composed of six chapters and 50 articles, was designed to "prevent radioactive contamination and help protect the lives and health of people as well as the environment," it said.

   In its efforts to shore up radioactive safety, the law calls for assessment of safety and environmental effects before building a nuclear facility.

   "In the case of building a nuclear facility, an organization or a firm is subject to environmental effect assessment from the land and environment protection organization," reads Chapter III. The same chapter also requires them to be examined by the nuclear safety watchdog over the stability and radioactive safety of their nuclear facilities.

   In the event of a radioactive pollution, a special monitoring team will be launched to screen out contaminated agricultural and marine products while regular tests over the air, water and the soil near nuclear facilities are to be conducted during normal days, it said.

   The legal efforts are believed to reflect the North's reaction toward rising nuclear safety concerns raised by the international community.

   The communist country reportedly operates a 5-megawatt nuclear research reactor as well as other nuclear processing and reprocessing facilities.

   The country is also believed to have made progress in the building of a new light water reactor in Yongbyon.

   Some nuclear experts have warned against a potential radioactive accident in the North, especially after the radioactive leak in Japan last year.

   "The enactment seems to reflect the North's consideration toward the international community's rising concerns about nuclear safety in the North," said Chang Yong-suk, a researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies of Seoul National University. It also shows the North taking necessary legal steps to claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes over the long term, he said.

   pbr@yna.co.kr
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