Moon said on Monday that his country would move away from nuclear energy and would not seek to extend the life of the existing nuclear plants, either.
He made the remarks while speaking at a ceremony marking the shutdown of the country’s first nuclear reactor, the Kori-1.
“We will dump our atomic-centric power supply and open the door to the post-nuclear era,” said the president. “I will scrap all preparations to build new reactors currently underway and will not extend lifespan of current reactors.”
Moon, during his presidential campaign, had vowed to try to eventually shut down all nuclear power plants across the country, although doing so would likely take decades.
He further warned of “unimaginable consequences” in case of a nuclear meltdown since many reactors are located dangerously close to residential areas in the country.
“South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquake, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact,” Moon added.
That was precisely what happened in Japan in 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown in a nuclear plant and the leakage of radioactive material.
The South Korean president has ordered the temporary closure of several aged thermal power plants. He has also vowed to permanently shut down 10 aged coal power plants during his five-year term.
The plan, which is welcomed by environmental groups, however, has raised concerns among others that it could lead to a rise in electricity prices and power shortages.
South Korea, one of the world’s largest nuclear electricity producers, currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, many of which will see their life spans expire between 2020 and 2030. The reactors generate about 30 percent of the country’s total power supply.