1. 20 Submarine Reactor Compartments to be Shipped for Storage by August
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The floating dock Pallada, which took part in Kursk operation, will ship the empty reactor compartments to Sayda Bay on the Kola Peninsula.
By 2007, 120 reactor compartments should be placed in the on-shore storage facility in Sayda bay. Shipyard Nerpaï¿½s specialists prepare the empty reactor compartments for the shipment and further storage, i.e. they secure that the reactor compartments are hermetic and floatable. The Pallada dock will ship these compartments to the Sayda bay. It is expected that 20 reactor compartments will be already shipped by August. The German specialists from Energiewerke Nord company are monitoring the schedule and the quality of works, Interfax reported.
Pallada dock, which was used for Kursk submarine shipment to the Nerpa shipyard, is the main part in the Russian-German deal, which is aimed at cleaning up the contaminated Sayda Bay and providing, over the course of the next six years, a temporary onshore reactor compartment storage facility. The ï¿½300m expenditure is seen by Germany as part of its obligation to the framework of the ï¿½10 plus 10 over 10ï¿½ plan agreed upon by the Group of Eight industrialised nations, or G-8, in 2002 at the groupï¿½s summit in Kananaskis, Canada.
1. Canada to Earmark 8.5 Million Dollars for Destruction of Russian Chemical Arms Stockpiles
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Canada will provide nearly 8.5 million dollars (6.5 million euros) to help Russia destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles as part of a British-sponsored deal, the British Embassy announced.
"Under the memorandum signed today, Canada will provide an initial 10 million Canadian dollars (approximately 6.5 million euros) for further key industrial infrastructure projects at Shchuchye," an embassy communique said.
Shchuchye, located 1,560 kilometers (nearly 1,000 miles) southeast of Moscow, is home to Russia's largest chemical weapons storage facility in the Ural mountains.
Canada's outlay is the first installment of more than 28 million dollars (21 million euros) it pledged in November 2003 for the destruction of the Russian chemical stockpiles.
The communique said Ottawa also planned to make additional contributions over the next two years to be used by Britain to provide equipment for a second "destruction building".
"Completion of these critical projects will help to ensure the earliest practicable destruction of the Shchuchye stockpile," it added.
The Shchuchye facility stores 14 percent of Russia's 40,000 tonnes of chemical weapons, the world's largest arsenal.
Late last year, Moscow complained that foreign funding for destruction of its chemical arms arsenal was inadequate.
2. Russia Starts Building Another Site to Destroy Chemical Weapons
BBC Monitoring and Itar-Tass
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The first stone was laid today of an installation to destroy chemical weapons in Maradykovskiy District of Kirov Region. The site is designed to process up to 2,000 tonnes of toxic materials a year, ITAR-TASS was told at the regional administration.
Maradykovskiy is one of five chemical weapons storage points in the Volga Federal District. It holds 40,000 individual munitions that contain 7,000 tonnes of toxic material in total. It will destroy aerial munitions and rockets whose warheads have a blend of yperite [mustard gas] and lewisite [blister agent], and also toxic phosphoorganic compounds.
The site's first processing line to destroy aerial chemical munitions should enter operation in December 2006 and the second in December 2008. All stocks of chemical weapons in Kirov Region should be destroyed by 2011. Over R1bn in federal funding has been allocated for construction.
1. US Companies to Refurbish Power Plant Facilities to Replace Plutonium Reactors in Russia
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Washington Group International, Inc. announced in the end of December that it has been awarded a $285-million contract to refurbish electric power generating facilities in Siberia as part of a United States Department of Energy program to permanently shut down the last three weapons-grade plutonium-production reactors in Siberia.
The contract is Washington Group's share of the program -- announced in 2003 by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in conjunction with the Defence Threat Reduction Agency -- to close the three reactors that supply heat and electricity to nearby communities. A byproduct of the power-production operations is enough plutonium to make a few bombs per week. Washington Group will refurbish and rebuild coal-fired generation facilities in Seversk, Russia, near Tomsk. Heat and electricity will be provided to the community by the refurbished facilities and allow the Russians to permanently shut down two of the three reactors, as required by an agreement with the United States. The project will involve refurbishing or replacing existing coal-fired boilers, providing one new high-pressure coal-fired boiler, replacing turbine generators, completing construction of the fuel-supply system, and refurbishing the industrial heating unit and ancillary systems. Washington Group will continue its working relationship with DOE, NNSA and its Russian counterpart, Rosatom; Rosatomstroi, the Russian integrating contractor; and Russian subcontractors to manage the project over a 60-month period.
Another US company Raytheon Technical Services will oversee work at the Zheleznogorsk site, near Krasnoyarsk. There, the U.S. will provide assistance in building a new fossil fuel plant, which should be completed in 7 years.
Russia's underfunded science sector needs root-and-branch reform in the wake of the brain drain of scientists lured abroad by better pay and conditions, but a proposed privatization of research institutes will most likely fail to solve the problem.
The documentary, in the "Top Secret" series, said 800,000 scientists left the country in the first 10 years after the easing of emigration rules in the 1990s.
Investing in Western science
"Their training in Russia had cost 60bn dollars. That is the sum we invested in Western science." And yet science is not just a matter of prestige, "but also the national security and sovereignty of the country".
The programme said skilled physicists, biologists, chemists, mathematicians and programmers are in particularly high demand abroad.
Interviewed on the departure of the country's scientists, Sergey Kapitsa, vice-president of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, said "our country sacrificed science for the sake of political ambitions that are quite incomprehensible to me. Or they wanted to decapitate the country."
Kapitsa said the training of one student at the Moscow Physico-Technical Institute would cost the equivalent of 1m-2m dollars abroad. Thus, "the cost of the roughly 1,500-2,000 students - graduates - that the Moscow Physico-Technical Institute has sent to the USA amounts to several billion dollars".
The programme quoted foreign intelligence sources as estimating that 70,000 scientists and specialists from Russian defence institutes and military-industrial complex enterprises have left the country.
"The nuclear physicists, experts in electronic equipment, virologists and biotechnologists did not leave empty-handed. They took secrets with them and presented their former foes with the weapons they had themselves developed."
The documentary went on: "According to CIA data, in the first half of the 1990s thousands of Soviet specialists in the field of nuclear and missile technology left for the Middle East. They worked there in violation of the treaty on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. From the Arzamas-16 centre several people went to work in Iraq. Russian scientists worked in Iran and Libya. Forty nuclear scientists emigrated to Israel. Thousands of Russian specialists in the field of nuclear and missile technologies developed programmes to improve armaments in China. Our scientists are willing to work anywhere they are paid."
The programme said Russia had a missing generation of scientists, noting that the average age of scientists who leave to work abroad is 20-30. "Russia today has virtually lost a whole generation of specialists. There are almost no scientists of middle age - the most productive and professional age - left in science. Continuity has been broken.
Traditions are being lost. The chronological links in fundamental science have been lost. In many institutes the scientists are over 60, even though just a few years ago the average age was 38. According to statistical forecasts, only pensioners will remain in Russian science in the near future."
Echoing this theme, Kapitsa commented that "in our higher educational establishments and universities, the grandparents are teaching the grandchildren".
The programme noted that while large numbers of scientists rushed abroad when the iron curtain collapsed, those who stayed tried their utmost to obtain research grants allocated by the Russian Fundamental Research Fund [RFRF], set up in 1992 to finance science. "The authors of 9,000 research projects take part in RFRF competitions each year. Of these, an expert council selects the best 3,000. But the value of contracts in Russia and abroad cannot be compared. If successful in the competition, a team of 10 scientists can count on a grant of R150,000. This money is supposed to cover not just salaries, but also the research."
"Modern and competitive science cannot be done for this sort of money, of course," commented Professor Sergey Nedospasov, who has a position at the USA's National Cancer Institute: "You can only survive. That is roughly the level at which the majority of laboratories have been existing over the past 10 years."
Lev Nikolayev, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, echoed this idea: "It's a question of organizing science. We continue to exist according to the blueprint that existed in our former political system. Hundreds and thousands of scientific institutions are existing and surviving, but the absolute majority of them are no longer capable of developing anything."
"In the new conditions," the programme said, "the whole structure of science needs to be reformed in Russia". The number of Russian inventions being patented has slumped in recent years. and "the country's best minds and talents are depressed by one thing: our society's indifference to science".
It said "legions" of scientific workers are deciding to switch to other careers in what is known as the "internal brain drain". "The number of people engaged in science in the 1990s has gone down by more than two-thirds. In one of the departments of the Institute of General Physics, 15 of the 20 staff have left science to work in business. Of the five remaining scientists, three went to work abroad. Only two continue to work at home."
Russia remains the "main donor" meeting the growing "appetites" of US corporations for qualified scientists from abroad, the commentary said. And only high pay and good career prospects can bring the scientists back to Russia.
The programme recalled that in September 2004, the Education and Science Ministry had issued a proposal for "attracting private capital and auctioning off a number of research institutes". "Out of 2,500 scientific enterprises, 100, or 200 at the most, will remain. Only the property will be valued for auction purposes, and it will end up in the hands of the science generals."
The programme expressed disappointment that "this sort of privatization will bring rank-and-file scientists neither money nor an improvement in their working conditions".
This was echoed by Nikolay Petrakov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who said the scheme "will lead above all, it seems to me, to scientific organizations being definitively destroyed". "There will simply be no science because after the privatization no-one is being obliged to invest in research."
1. Russian Deputy FM Calls Nuclear Talks with Iran ï¿½Very Usefulï¿½
Mehr News Agency
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said here on Tuesday that the nuclear talks between Iranian and Russian officials are ï¿½very usefulï¿½.
Kislyak, who arrived in Tehran on Monday, told the Mehr News Agency that Russiaï¿½s nuclear talks with Iran illustrate the transparency of Iranï¿½s nuclear program.
ï¿½We discussed significant nuclear issuesï¿½ and intend to continue these talks,ï¿½ he said, but refused to elaborate further.
Kislyak pointed to the high level of Tehran-Moscow nuclear cooperation and noted that it is increasing.
The Russian deputy foreign minister, who is also responsible for disarmament affairs, is scheduled to hold talks with officials from Iranï¿½s Supreme National Security Council, the Iran Atomic Energy Organization, and the Foreign Ministry during his stay.
In a recent confidential report that was leaked to the press, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that while Iran was guilty of breaching certain international safeguards, almost two years of inspections had uncovered no proof of any illicit weapons programs. Then, on Jan. 18, a day after U.S. President George W. Bush refused to rule out military action against Iran if it continued to attempt to build nuclear weapons, a number of Iranian officials declared that they would not be intimidated by U.S. threats.
These two events are two sides of the same coin. Russia is intimately involved in this important issue due to its agreement to share civilian nuclear technology with Tehran signed in August 1992, an agreement which has long profited both countries.
So what's wrong with an Iranian nuclear program? Why is the international community, especially the United States, so concerned? Why is the Iranian nuclear program so important to Russia, considering how intense U.S. pressure on Moscow remained in the 1990s and how strongly the United States demanded Russia end its nuclear cooperation with Iran? Will Iran ignore international nuclear safeguards and agreements and become the first Islamic nuclear power since Pakistan tested the bomb in May 1998? Will the international community succeed in persuading Tehran to abandon its presumed nuclear weapons drive and focus solely on civilian atomic energy?
Even top Iranian diplomats cannot give a definite answer to these questions. Last November, a senior Iranian diplomat, Ali Saltahni, spoke at the Carnegie Moscow Center and addressed why Iran needs a closed nuclear fuel cycle and uranium enrichment facilities. He pointed to Iran's demand for cheap energy and emphasized its right to construct nuclear power stations and manufacture its own fuel. In the heated discussion that ensued, Saltahni tried to calm his audience and stated that "very soon" Iran would sign a special agreement with Russia to return spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr's nuclear reactors, thus confirming his country's commitment to civilian nuclear energy.
Yet one small but very important problem with Tehran's nuclear program remains. The United States is convinced that Iran has an advanced nuclear military program and that Tehran has decided to build nuclear weapons. A Nov. 24 article in The New York Times referred to a CIA report that stated that the international network of nuclear black market dealers headed by the so-called father of the Pakistani bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, provided "significant assistance" to Iran, including "advanced" and "efficient" nuclear warhead designs. Thus, Washington believes that it is more important to stop Tehran than to negotiate.
There is some logic behind the United States' conclusion that Iran's nuclear program has hidden military goals. Iran says that it is building expensive nuclear energy facilities and developing a closed nuclear fuel cycle to satisfy its future demands for electricity. But uranium reserves in the country, as many in the West have pointed out, are scarce and less than 1 percent of its huge oil and gas reserves. Iran is home to the second-largest reserves of natural gas in the world. During oil production, Iran burns enough of the associated gas to produce what Western experts claim is the equivalent of four nuclear power plants the size of Bushehr. In this light, Tehran's nuclear energy program seems to be a cover for developing the bomb.
Thus, even with the long history of Russian-Iranian nuclear dialogue, there are some troubling questions to be asked of Russia's strategic energy partner. For the last several years, Iran has misinformed Moscow about the true size of its own nuclear program on several occasions. Moscow, as Iran's only partner, longs for more openness and frank information from Tehran. The question remains how Russian-Iranian relations in the nuclear sphere should proceed, as the United States and other Western partners regard Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran as a direct contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction. Russia does not believe this to be true and does not see any grounds for stopping construction at Bushehr. Moreover, nuclear cooperation with Iran is very profitable for Moscow, in that it helps keep Russia's atomic power industry alive and brings in millions of dollars. Thus, Russia needs to separate the issue of possible nuclear weapons development from the question of the Bushehr nuclear power plant and communicate the crucial difference between the two to the world community.
Officials believe that Russia has every right to help Iran develop civilian nuclear energy and to encourage fruitful cooperation with its strategic energy partner. But Moscow should avoid the mistakes of the 1990s in its nuclear relations with Iran. And it should be strict and to the point with Iran in order to prevent a rift between Moscow and Washington over the Iranian nuclear program.
But while attempting to keep a reserved and careful attitude toward nuclear cooperation with Iran, we should not go to the other extreme, either. Today, the IAEA has all the necessary tools that will allow it to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the Iranian nuclear program, as well as engage in further monitoring. Russia should cooperate with the IAEA but should not push this specialized United Nations agency to make political statements that do not coincide with the conclusions of its nuclear inspectors. Moreover, now may not be the best time for the agency's report to be handed over to the Security Council.
In addition to working with international nuclear inspectors, Russia should actively cooperate with France, Germany, Britain and other European countries with longstanding traditions of dialogue with Iran. Finally, we must avoid putting extra pressure on Iran and be very careful not to disclose Israel's nuclear arsenal. Tehran might then rapidly abandon international treaties. This would undermine stability in the region and perhaps the rest of the world as well. This is a critical time for Iran to be held within the community of non-nuclear states to avoid a military solution to the Iranian nuclear problem. It is in Russia's interest to preempt a strike by either the United States or Israel, as well as to prevent the formation of an Islamic Nuclear Belt on its southern flank.
3. Delay in Launching Bushehr Plant in Iran Technical, Says Russian Ambassador
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The causes of the delay in putting into operation the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant are well known and they are all technical, Russia's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Iran Alexander Maryasov said in an interview with Itar-Tass on Monday.
"Firstly, the Iranian side initially expressed the wish to try and synchronize the project that had been prepared by German specialists with a project that we are implementing. This work has proved very complex and taken sufficiently much time. Even though it has been finally done, more efforts and time have been spent than if we would have begun to build the nuclear power plant from the very outset according to our technical project. This is the main cause of the delay," Maryasov said.
He cited as a second cause the fact the "Iranians wanted to actively participate at the initial stage in the construction of some parts of the plant and to carry out several lines of work on their own." However, they later realized that it was a difficult and new work for them. This also influenced the construction schedule to a certain degree, he added.
"After all, the Iranians have agreed to our proposal to build the nuclear power plant on "turn-key" basis on the strength of the Russian side," the diplomat said.
"There were other technical causes such as agreeing on prices and the nomenclature of electric was delivered not from Russia but from European and other countries," he said.
All together, these causes have led to the delay in the completion of the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the ambassador said.
Maryasov stressed that there had been no political reasons for the delay in the construction of the power plant as some foreign, including Iranian, mass media have claimed.
Russia on Friday threw its backing behind a European initiative to persuade Iran to give up any nuclear technology that could be used for military purposes, and joined France in urging the United States to join the effort.
The unprecedented public show of unity on the issue followed a string of reports suggesting that the United States had hardened its stance on Tehran's atomic program and might be contemplating military action, a suggestion that the Bush administration has not denied outright.
Following two days of talks in the Russian capital, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his French counterpart, Michel Barnier, stressed in unison that the only way to reach a reliable agreement with Iran was through the political dialogue that France, Britain and Germany launched 16 months ago. Both ministers also made clear that in order to succeed the initiative needed more active support from the United States.
"We are working in parallel to the Europeans, we are backing their efforts," Lavrov told the International Herald Tribune after a press conference Thursday night, adding that his government was in contact with Iranian officials on a regular basis.
Barnier welcomed his host's support. "The Russians' backing is very important for us," the French minister said in an interview Friday. "Three large European countries have enough credibility to launch this dialogue, but for it to succeed we need both Russia and the United States to be behind us."
Barnier and Lavrov met alone on Thursday before joining their defense ministers Friday for a meeting of their countries' Security Cooperation Council, held every six months. The issues discussed included the fight against international terrorism and the situation in the Middle East and in Iraq, but Iran appeared to dominate the agenda.
This past week, an article in the New Yorker magazine set off a storm of commentary when it said that American agents had been working on the ground in Iran since last summer in an attempt to locate potential Iranian nuclear targets for destruction.
The administration said the report was "riddled with inaccuracies," but did not deny its central message, and President George W. Bush refused to rule out military action if Tehran were found to be secretly developing nuclear weapons. On Thursday, Iran reacted by warning that it would respond to any military attack.
Barnier and Lavrov both played down suggestions that Washington may have turned more hawkish on Iran. "I don't think attacking is an option, either for us or for the Americans," Barnier said.
In November, envoys from Britain, France and Germany gained Iran's agreement to temporarily suspend its uranium enrichment activities, an accord endorsed by the 35-country board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN monitoring group.
Russia has not always been supportive of the European initiative. Moscow initially needed assurances that Iran's civilian nuclear sector, in which Russia has significant investments, would not fall victim to the European demands.
Barnier said Russian suspicions had been overcome: "We have talked a lot to the Russians. They have understood that supporting Europe means supporting a political solution."
1. Tightrope Walk: India's Nuclear Programme at the Crossroads
P. R. Chari
The Times of India
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India and Russia are keen to cooperate in areas such as information technology, combating global terrorism and running oilfields. However, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over a much earlier arrangement ï¿½ the transfer of nuclear technology. In supplying nuclear reactors and fuel to India, Russia would not like to rub other members of the nuclear club the wrong way.
The joint declaration signed by the Russian Federation and India after president Putin's recent visit to New Delhi expresses this intent: "Both sides are determined to continue their cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, incorporating innovative technologies to ensure energy security, with due regard to their commitments to non- proliferation norms". According to the Russian deputy prime minister, the declaration aims at expanding bilateral linkages in the civilian sector beyond the present two- reactor Koodankulam power project. In the same breath, Russia also drew India's attention to international treaty commitments made to the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG).
What was this supposed to mean? During Putin's visit, the director of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency clearly said Russia would be unable to supply any more reactors for the Koodankulam atomic power project and low enriched uranium fuel for the Tarapur Atomic Power Plant. Apparently, the Russia's supply of enriched uranium for Tarapur in 2001 was made on "safety" considerations, but had evoked "a very negative reaction from the NSG". Therefore, Russia expressed inability to supply uranium fuel to India, unless India accepted IAEA inspection over its entire nuclear programme, including its military aspects, as part of NSG norms. India has consistently resisted this dispensation as it would obviously and erode its sovereignty.
As for the US, even if it is keen to further its strategic partnership with India, it is unlikely to make India an exception to its domestic laws and its own commitments to the NSG. New Delhi needs to appreciate that the 'next steps' are designed to forge an engagement with India that would permit a close monitoring of its nuclear, missile and space programmes. Corrective measures could then be taken whenever it appears that India is contemplating aberrant actions.
Russia has always supported India's nuclear programmes despite considerable opposition from the US and the NSG. There was great pressure on Russia to refrain from exporting the two atomic reactors that are currently under construction in Koodan- kulam; Russia bridged over this problem by arguing that the original contract for their supply was signed in 1988, before the new and more stringent NSG guidelines came into force in 1992. Similar problems were raised in respect of Russia's supply of cryogenic engines for India's geostationary satellite launch vehicle programme. These were ultimately supplied without any transfer of technology. Whether Putin will find it possible to favour India in future remains an open question. Russia's relations with the US are under some strain with the Bush administration encouraging anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine and the Central Asian Republics.
What are the other alternatives before India to obtain supplies of advanced reactor designs and technology and uranium fuel for Tarapur? Could India gain entry into the nuclear suppliers' group as a nuclear weapon state? The non-proliferation treaty is clear that no new entrants to the five-member nuclear club are permitted. If the argument were to be that India, having acquired nuclear capabilities, should be accepted as a member of the nuclear club and the NSG, a similar dispensation cannot be denied to Pakistan, Israel and, possibly, North Korea. This would be opposed by the nuclear club.
The other option before India is to go it alone. India would have to base its future atomic power programme on the same Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) designs that have been perfected over the years. These are, perhaps, not as efficient as the Rus-sian-supplied VVER reactors, but can be constructed much earlier due to India's experience with them.
Similarly, low enriched uranium supplies can be ensured through indigenous technology. The Atomic Energy Commission has been working on centrifuge technology to enrich uranium for several years, but there is no transparency regarding its capabilities and capacities.
If India is unable to produce sufficient quantities of low enriched uranium to fuel Tarapur, there are two options that remain. First, to seek these supplies from other non-NSG members that have the capability to produce enriched uranium. This includes Pakistan and Israel. Would it be politically feasible for India to enter into a purely commercial relationship with Israel for the supply of low enriched uranium, since it would be politically difficult to seek these supplies from Pakistan?
The second option is to replace the low enriched uranium fuel in the Tarapur reactors with MOX or mixed oxide (a mixture of uranium and plutonium oxides), which is an unproven technology, although limited admixtures of the two fuels have been used in the past to operate Tarapur. Changes in the reactor designs would, however, be necessary, and adequate safety measures ensured.
A crisis brews in India's atomic energy programme. Attention would have to be paid not only to its technical dimensions, but also the political implications of India's relations with Russia and the US.
The rebirth of nuclear power may make uranium the top commodity pick of investors at least for the next two years.
In presentations to the Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday, at least two experts, including an executive for the Scotiabank Group, extolled the virtues of uranium.
Patricia Mohr, Vice President, Economics, Industry & Commodity Market Research for the Scotiabank declared that "uranium is my top commodity pick for investors during the next two years," noting that as of January 25 the spot price was US$21, while the long-term contract price was $25. She predicted a price forecast of spot $25 and long-term contract of $30 per pound in 2006 because utility companies have bid up long-term contract prices due to their concerns over security of supply.
"Both spot and longer-term contract prices are likely to strengthen further in coming years," she added.
Dustin J. Garrow, President of International Nuclear, Inc., declared that "after 30 years in exile, nuclear power is back." Current world nuclear capacity includes 438 reactors in 31 nations. Mohr said the total will increase to 474 reactors by 2013. She predicted that substantial expansions in Asia (38 additional reactors) and in Eastern Europe (11 reactors) will offset a reduction of 24 reactors in Western Europe. However, only 100 million pounds of uranium will be mined annually by that time.
Meanwhile, Russia is busy exporting reactors to nations such as China, India, Japan, South Korea and the region of Eastern Europe. Mohr estimated that a deficit of 175 million pounds of uranium now exists between mine supply and international uranium consumption by utilities. Garrow noted that nations such as Lithuania, France, Slovakia, and Belgium now use nuclear power for at least 50% of their electricity generation.
Garrow said that factors contributing to the revival of nuclear power are improved reactor performance, extended fuel cycles, increased generating capacity, and reduced operating costs. Expansion programs for nuclear-generated power are underway in China, India, Russia, and Finland, he added. Even the nuclear-phobic United States is granted operating license extensions for nuclear power plants, and planning new facilities.
Garrow estimated that world uranium requirements could hit more than 240 million pounds by the year 2019. Mohr In 2003, six nations produced more than 80% of an estimated 92.4 million pounds of total world uranium production. Of those, Canada and Australia produced more than 50% of the world total, he added.
Production also comes from secondary uranium sources, including the U.S.-Russian Highly Enriched Uranium Program, the U.S. Enrichment Corporation Inventory, and the Highly Enriched Uranium Inventory of the U.S. Department of Energy, according to Garrow. However, Mohr said Russia's indication that it will cut potential supplies to western markets by the time the U.S.-Russian HEU Agreement ends in 2013, This means Russia needs to withdraw about 7 million pounds yearly to facilitate the blending of HEU for its own domestic market as well as its developing export markets for which it is supplying reactors.
Garrow said the international uranium market is already making the transition from inventories to production-driven. Therefore, the future price trend will be determined by the "need price" to support new production centers. Due to potential uranium shortages prior to new mines coming on line in 2010, Garrow said a term uranium price at or above $30 per pound is not unreasonable.
Mohr said she did not view uranium as a cyclical commodity, but as a "long-term secular improvement."
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