1. Victor-III Nuclear Submarine to be Scrapped Soon in Severodvinsk
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Zvezdochka shipyard is preparing to start dismantling of the Victor-III multipurpose nuclear submarine, project 671RTM, Interfax reported.
The submarine was placed in the dock on March 15. Canada sponsors the work in the frames of the Global Partnership program adopted in 2002 at the G8 summit. The program stipulates allocating $20 billion for elimination of the excessive weapons in the former USSR. Russia suggested spending some sum on the decommissioning of the multipurpose nuclear submarine, even if they are unable to carry nuclear weapons.
At the fist stage of the dismantlement the nuclear fuel will be removed from the submarineï¿½s reactor, which will be placed for storage with two neighbouring compartments. Then the rest of the submarine will be scrapped.
2. Norway Ready to Continue Coop with RF in Nuke Security - FM
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Norway is ready to continue cooperation with Russia in nuclear security and scrapping of nuclear submarines of Russia's Northern Fleet, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen said.
After his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday Petersen said, "Now talks are under way to destruct the third submarine drawing of Viktor Schauberger's original concept. The scrapping should be conducted at the Nerpa ship-repair plant in Snezhnogorsk (Murmansk region)."
The Norwegian minister expressed the hope for the soonest resolution of the problem. On further cooperation, he said, "We're doing much and are ready to continue our efforts at Russia's Northwest until the problem is resolved."
Iran on Sunday denied that Ukraine had delivered to it cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
"Nothing of this sort has been recorded in the documents of the bodies concerned, the Iranian government has not concluded any such deal," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told journalists.
"It's up to the Ukrainian government to give more information if it has any," he added.
Asefi's comments were the first denial by Tehran of a statement made some 10 days ago by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, speaking to the US television station NBC.
Yushchenko said X-55 missiles, or AS-15 according to NATO classification, were sold illegally to Iran and China under a counterfeit contract naming Russia as the final destination.
No nuclear warheads were sold with the missiles, made in 1987 which have a range roughly of 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) and were poorly maintained, according to a Ukranian source familiar with the investigation.
US intelligence officials quoted by NBC said China and Iran each obtained six missiles. Ukrainian officials have offered conflicting accounts of the number of rockets delivered.
Iran most powerful rocket, the Shahab-3, based on North Korean technology, has a declared range of some 2,000 kilometers. A missile able to travel 3,000 kilometres would bring Israel, the arch-enemy of Tehran, in range.
2. Key Signatories Agree to Tighten Nuke Materials Protection Treaty
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Japan, the United States and other key signatories to an international treaty on the safety of nuclear materials agreed Friday to revise the pact to tighten its grip on the materials, diplomatic sources said.
The sources said the countries agreed during a preliminary meeting in Vienna to revised the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material to require signatories to protect the materials while they are used, stockpiled and transported within countries.
Representatives of 58 countries attended the preliminary session from Monday, the sources said, adding they agreed to require signatories to guarantee the protection of reactors and other nuclear power facilities regardless of whether nuclear substances are existent.
Signatory countries are expected to hold an ambassadorial-level meeting in Vienna on July 4-8 to adopt and sign the proposed revision.
At present, the treaty requires signatories to take appropriate steps to protect plutonium and other nuclear substances from attack and robbery, such as by terrorists, only when they are being transported internationally.
Moves to strengthen the control of nuclear materials have accelerated as fears have spread in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States that international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida may attempt nuclear terrorism.
Adopted in 1979, the treaty took effect in 1987, and 110 countries have signed it, including Japan, the United States and Russia. The International Atomic Energy Agency has served as the treaty's secretariat.
1. Russians Visit Wyoming Base As Part of Anti-Terrorism Efforts
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As part of efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, a delegation of senior Russian military officers and experts on nuclear security visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base.
The base maintains and supervises 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles in underground silos scattered throughout southeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska.
Friday's visit was "fully in keeping" with the decision by President Bush and Russian President Putin at their Feb. 24 meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, to expand and deepen cooperation on nuclear security, said Maj. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, Commander of 20th Air Force.
"The U.S. and Russia have pledged to share 'best practices' with the goal of enhancing the security of nuclear facilities in both countries and around the world," he said in a release Saturday.
The Russian visitors were in the United States for a meeting of the Joint Coordinating Group, which is the primary organization that plans and implements the U.S. Department of Energy's program of nuclear nonproliferation assistance with Russian armed forces, Warren officials said.
While on base, the Russian delegation toured several facilities and observed the procedures for protecting those facilities against terrorist attack.
They also visited the base hospital for discussions of an Air Force program to ensure that individuals who work with or guard nuclear weapons meet rigorous standards for physical and mental health.
"Security at F.E. Warren Air Force Base and the other two intercontinental ballistic missile bases in Air Force Space Command has been and remains very capable and highly effective," Klotz said. "However, security must be constantly reviewed and improved to stay ahead of evolving terrorist threats and tactics, and to take full advantage of the latest developments in security technology."
A joint statement issued by Bush and Putin on Feb. 24 read in part, "The United States and Russia will continue our cooperation on security upgrades of nuclear facilities and develop a plan of work through and beyond 2008 on joint projects.
"Recognizing that the terrorist threat is both long-term and constantly evolving, in 2008 our countries will assess the joint projects and identify avenues for future cooperation consistent with our increased attention to the security culture in both countries."
U.S. Air Force Space Command will host additional Russian experts at F.E. Warren in the near future "to further advance bilateral cooperation on this critically important task," Klotz said.
Friday's visit was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Officials from that agency, as well as the Department of Defense, accompanied the Russian delegation.
The Joint Coordinating Group was formed in 1998 to aid efforts to secure nuclear weapons and materials.
The group meets twice each year. The most recent meeting just concluded at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M.
Russia does not object to U.S. military forces remaining in Central Asia and is pleased with its cooperation with the United States on combating terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation issues, the head of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee told UPI in an interview.
"We think the U.S. military presence in Central Asia does not contradict our interests as long as we are transparent with each other," Konstantin I. Kosachev, chairman of the foreign relations committee of the State Duma, the main chamber of the Russian parliament, said.
"Maybe the United States feels the terrorist threat more deeply than Russia because groups like al-Qaida have explicitly targeted the United States and boasted that they want to destroy it. But we are very concerned about these groups too," Kosachev said. "Al-Qaida is involved in Chechnya and is trying to use the situation there to develop its own agenda," he said. "It and similar groups are also trying to take advantage of the unrest and instability in Central Asia, and we have great concern about that."
Despite reports of increasing tensions and conflicts between the United States and Russia, Kosachev said he was optimistic about the future direction of U.S.-Russian bilateral relations.
Kosachev, a member of the ruling United Russia Party that supports President Vladimir Putin, said the two leading thermonuclear-armed powers continued to have major strategic interests in common. "Iran is the only contradictory issue in our cooperation," the Duma committee chairman said. "And even there, the real differences between Washington and Moscow were far smaller than was generally realized," he said.
"If we speak about Iran, Russia is definitely not interested in having Iran as a nuclear power," Kosachev said. "We do have our own issues with Tehran and we do feel that in some areas they are very incorrect. We have our concerns with Tehran."
Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor program, which is being built with the help of Russian companies, "is under the control of the International Atomic Energy Authority," Kosachev said. Russian experts were confident that when completed and fully operational it would not be able to produce weapons-grade nuclear material, he said.
Furthermore, even the Iran nuclear dispute "cannot prevent our broad cooperation on North Korea or improving the Non Proliferation Treaty," Kosachev said.
The NPT, he said, needs to be revised. "It is no longer compatible with the current (global) situation," he said. "It was originally written for a world with five nuclear powers - the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China. And now we know that there are at least three more: India, Pakistan and Israel."
The U.S.-Russian dialogue on improving the NPT is already "very good" and counter-terrorism cooperation remains excellent too, Kosachev said.
The leaders of the foreign affairs committees of the House of Representatives and the Russian State Duma are setting up a new body to boost cooperation between the two parliaments, the Duma's foreign affairs committee chief told UPI.
Kosachev said he and Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, had agreed that the new working group would be set up to facilitate understanding between the two chambers.
"One of the problems we experience in our bilateral cooperation with the United States is that they extremely depend upon some subjective points of view (between members of the House and the Duma)," Kosachev said. "The main reason I am in Washington is an attempt to re-establish good relations with the Congress. We do not have frequent contacts.
"Our relations should be based upon the broader basis of coinciding interests that members of both parliaments understand," he said. "We will try and initiate an inter-parliamentary dialogue between our two legislatures in writing, with people responsible for different areas. I am here to deliver this proposal to Mr. Hyde."
Kosachev said he was also in Washington this week for the launch of a new English language Russian public policy magazine, Russia Profile, which is published by Russia's Independent Media publishing house organization and the official RIA-Novosti news agency. "It is a serious analytical attempt to give more detailed information to the Western world on what is happening in Russia," he said.
Along with Kosachev, the magazine's board, or trustee council, includes State Duma Deputy Mikhail Zadornov, Svetlana Mironyuk, the general director of RIA-Novosti and U.S. analyst and Russia expert Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute.
3. Russian Premier Signs Instructions on Talks With US on Nuclear Storage
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Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has signed instructions on the holding of talks between the Russian defense minister and the US defense secretary on signing amendments to the agreement between the two countries on cooperation in the sphere of security in storing nuclear weapons.
This was reported to journalists on Wednesday (6 April) in the Russian government's press service.
People in the press service explained that the amendment envisages offering material and technical services and corresponding training during cooperation in the sphere of security in storing nuclear weapons.
This Defence Ministry proposal has been agreed with the Russian Foreign Ministry and with other departments involved.
Russia's interest in the Iranian nuclear program is not only due to the fact that it is helping to build a nuclear plant at Bushehr. Iran is one of the most dynamically developing nations not only in the Middle East, but also anywhere in the world. The path chosen by Iran, including its nuclear ambitions, will be instrumental in determining both the situation in the region and future global mechanisms of controlling non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Rigid controls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over Iranian nuclear power have always been a sine qua non for Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran. Russia is one of Iran's closest neighbors, and the risk of nuclear technologies falling into extremists' hands is one Russia does not wish to take. For this reason, Russia scrutinizes every point of agreement with Iran - an approach that draws heavy criticism in Iran. In particular, Russia has always said that it will supply its nuclear fuel to Iran only if Tehran signs a protocol on returning spent fuel.
At present, Iran is ready and willing to cooperate with any party that does not see international controls as a way to wreck its nuclear program. Russia wants Iran's nuclear program to be carried out under international control, and full and complete information to be available at any time. It would be unfair to deny Iran the chance to exploit advanced technologies for its own development.
U.S. and Russian positions on the Iranian nuclear program are often said to be widely divergent. In fact, deep down, they are likely dictated by the same motives. Both the U.S. and Russia are first of all concerned with non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Should extremists acquire a nuclear bomb and unleash "nuclear terrorism", it would be a global nightmare. So U.S. concerns about the security of America and its allies are quite understandable, as is its desire to play safe, especially in view of the deteriorating situation in the Middle East. However, it should not be forgotten that it was the US campaign in Iraq that went some considerable way to sparking negative trends in the region.
But there are some aspects of the American position that clearly go beyond Iran-IAEA cooperation and clash with the Russian viewpoint. These are plans to overhaul the world order and, perhaps, the U.S.'s special attitude to Iran's oil resources and that country's growing say in regional affairs - a stance that, naturally, is not infused with pro-American sentiments. Russia is alarmed at the preparation by the United States of a "pre-war Iran dossier", as it did with Iraq. The American charges that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction are now known to have been a myth. Time and again, international inspections failed to confirm American accusations. But still this did not stop the U.S. from unleashing a war against Iraq on the pretext that it could have used such weapons.
In addition, Russia has purely pragmatic interests in Iran. There is a very high likelihood that, were Russia to curtail its nuclear programs in Iran, American specialists would step in. And it is not inconceivable that, in a miraculous fashion and within a very short space of time, Iran might turn out to be a peaceful and transparent, as far as international control is concerned, state for the U.S. To my mind, the principal weakness of the U.S. arguments against Iran's nuclear program is this obvious commitment, as well as the negative experience of previous interference in Iraq's affairs on a similar pretext. Even if the U.S. is right in many things, these two circumstances cannot but undermine the credibility of what it says and does on Iran.
Only the IAEA can be a really competent and level-headed judge on such a complicated matter as Iran's national nuclear program. I think it would make sense for the U.S. to stop judging the organization's work exclusively through the prism of American aims and interests in the region. Incidentally, the issue of nuclear control in Iran may prove to be far from the last such issue that the world will face in the near future, and we should have ready some effective international mechanisms for such eventualities.
The European Union, which has its own ax to grind in Iran and the Middle East, is known to adhere to a relatively reasonable position, as it seeks to find real and non-discriminatory solutions to existing problems. As negotiators, the Europeans fit the bill: on the one hand, the Iranian leadership is willing to negotiate with EU representatives, while on the other the Europeans also bear in mind "Atlantic solidarity".
The negotiations slated to open in Geneva on April 10 will also deal, among other important matters, with the uranium-enrichment program announced by Iran. Russia has a vested interest in seeing the EU and Iran agree on this far-from-simple subject, and in particular to holding a nuts-and-bolts discussion of Tehran's "limited enrichment" proposals. The way these negotiations go may take a lot of the sting out of current passions surrounding Iran.
For the moment, these passions are running rather high. Some European commentators, for example, write that Bushehr may become a "stationary nuclear bomb", and, if detonated, could cover Middle East oil fields with a radioactive cloud. I believe it is up to an impartial IAEA mission to lay these fears to rest. Russian specialists, however, are convinced that safety at Bushehr meets next-generation international standards, and there is no cause for concern.
This is an apposite place to recall that the Middle East already has its own nuclear weapons, and they did not originate with Iran. It is certainly not right and proper, in my judgment, to consider weapons in the possession of one state in the region as posing a lesser risk than a peaceful energy program controlled by an international agency. The most dangerous and short-sighted thing to do in the present situation would be to let the situation get out of control, with Iran, disappointed and frustrated by its negotiating partners, "clamming up" against any external influence and drifting in a direction which it would be certain not to abandon. In this case, nuclear weapons, rather than peaceful programs, will be more probable.
Iran should not be driven into a corner, especially in a situation when it is itself seeking full-scale and constructive cooperation.
2. Russia Delays Nuke Fuel Shipments to Iran - Source
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Russia is likely to delay shipments of enriched uranium fuel to Iran to start up a Russian-built atomic power plant there until the autumn, a source in the Russian nuclear authority said on Monday.
In February Moscow and Tehran signed a fuel supply deal long opposed by Washington, which believes that Iran could use Russian know-how to make nuclear weapons.
At the time officials said fuel shipments to the Bushehr plant may start as soon as April.
"It's difficult to say when they (shipments) are going to start but I think we are going to do this in the autumn," the source in Russia's Atomic Energy Agency told Reuters.
Russia's nuclear ties with Iran, which date back to the early 1990s, have been marked by many delays that diplomats have linked to Moscow's reluctance to blatantly push ahead with a plan in a way that can seriously hurt its ties with Washington.
But the source, speaking on condition on anonymity, said the latest delay did not have any underlying political reasons.
"There is really no need to start shipments until autumn," the official said.
For Bushehr to come on stream, Russia needs to supply the fuel -- currently held at a storage facility in Siberia -- at least six months in advance.
That means the fuel does not have to be there until early next year because the plant is tentatively due to start operating some time later in 2006.
The Iranian embassy in Moscow and the state nuclear fuel company were not available for comment.
A key part of the February deal obliges Tehran to return all spent nuclear fuel to Russia. Moscow hopes this will allay U.S. worries that Iran may use the spent fuel, which could be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium, to develop weapons.
Iran, OPEC's second largest oil producer, has long denied charges it is secretly seeking nuclear weapons and has received strong backing from Moscow, which sees cooperation with Iran as a way to strengthen its role in the Middle East.
Once operational, Bushehr will generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity. Initiated before Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and badly damaged during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, the project was later revived with Russian help and has cost about $1 billion.
3. Minister: EU, Russian Policies on WMD Complement Each Other
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French Minister Delegate for European Affairs Claudie Haignere argued on Friday that the European Union and Russia were pursuing mutually complementary policies on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Talks that France, Germany and Britain are holding with Iran and a Russian-Iranian agreement on the re-import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia from Iran are moves for cooperation with Iran in the civilian use of nuclear energy under guarantees that Iran will have no nuclear weapons, Haignere said in a speech before students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Russia hopes the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will resume soon as they are the only way to resolve the dispute, a high-level Foreign Ministry official said Thursday.
"The issue of nuclear settlement on the Korean Peninsula remains an important task of Russia's foreign policy in Asia," Alexander Ivanov, director of the Foreign Ministry's department ofASEAN countries and Asian issues, was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.
"We are extremely interested in a rapid resumption of the six-party negotiations, for we see no other way of resolving this complex international issue," Ivanov said.
The six-party negotiations have been stalled since last September after three rounds of talks were held among China, the DPRK, the United States, Russia, South Korea and Japan. The fourthround failed to be convened last September as the DPRK refused to attend the talks, citing US hostile policy toward Pyongyang.
Since then, Russia has held "substantive" consultations with heads of the Chinese, South Korean and US delegations to the talks,Ivanov said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid significant attention to the nuclear issue during his contacts with officials from the United States, China, Japan and South Korea and the embassies in Moscow and Pyongyang regularly exchange views on this issue, he said.
All these are efforts aimed to create an atmosphere that would allow the talks to resume, Ivanov said.
The DPRK said on Feb. 10 it was suspending participation in thesix-party talks indefinitely and for the first time admitted possessing nuclear arms for self-defense.
As Russia expressed hopes for an early resumption of the talks,the United States also renewed its call for the DPRK to return to the negotiation table.
"We reiterate we remain prepared to hold the talks with no preconditions, and we urge North Korea to return to the table for serious discussions so that international concerns about its nuclear programs can be resolved and so that North Korea can end its international isolation," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a news briefing Wednesday.
"Russia, for its part, is ready to take part in providing international security guarantees to the DPRK" in hopes of settling the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, Ivanov said.
Russia is keeping at least one of its nuclear powered ï¿½battlecruisersï¿½ in service for a while, perhaps up to another twenty years. The Admiral Nakhimov, a Kirov class, 24,500 ton, warship, has begun a twenty month stay in the Severodvinsk shipyards, where the ship will receive new electronics, new missiles and other upgrades. The Admiral Nakhimov entered service in 1988, right at the end of the Cold War, and itï¿½s electronics are ancient by current standards, despite a 1994 upgrade. Four Kirovs were built, but only t he Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikhiy, which entered service in 1998, are still in working order. The Kirovs, in addition to their nuclear power plants, carry twenty Shipwreck anti-ship missiles and three different type of anti-aircraft missile systems (and over 250 missiles). There are also anti-submarine torpedo launchers, and 30mm cannon for anti-missile and close in defense. The crew of 720 has plenty of space, as the ship is 780 feet long and 90 feet wide. The Kirovs are fitted with additional (quite comfortable) staterooms for senior officers, so that the ship can operate as the flagship of a task force. While the upgrade can be seen mainly as a way to keep shipbuilding technicians employed, and maintain a formidable looking Russian warship in commission, a Kirov on the high seas is a warship to be reckoned with. The high speed Shipwreck anti-ship missiles have a range of 550 kilometers, and carry a 1,600 pound warhead. This missile was built to cripple an American aircraft carrier, but it would outright destroy any lesser vessels.
1. China: Tianwan Nuke Plant to be Fuelled, June Next
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Russians are building a nuclear power plant in Tianwan, China. Its Unit One is expected for fuelling next June, most probably. The information came from Ivan Kamenskikh, deputy chief of Russia's Federal Nuclear Energy Agency. He addressed newsmen as soon as he came back to Beijing from Lianyungan, near which the station bases.
Signed in 1997, the Tianwan construction contract envisages two power units to a lump 2,000 megawatts.
"Things are OK at the construction site, though the workers are a bit out of schedule-that due to Russian-manufactured equipment slightly below standard," said Mr. Kamenskikh. All that will surely be made good before May's end, and unit fuelling may take start then, he reassured.
Mr. Kamenskikh will revisit the plant in May's latter half, he added.
He had conference today with the President of the China National Nuclear Corporation to blueprint further Tianwan partnership.
Unit Two construction goes on parallel to Unit One, he went on.
Russian nuclear construction prospects in China largely depend on whether the two units will be commissioned on schedule and are found a success. China makes a special stress on the point, said Mr. Kamenskikh. "What China intends to do on Project Tianwan aims to keep the market open to Russia," he stressed.
Russia's Atomstroiexport Co. applied, February 28, for a tender to build nuclear plants in China's Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces. The projects envisage a total four units, 1,000 megawatts each. Rivaling the Russian company in the contest are France's Areva and the Westinghouse of the USA.
China is presently collecting exhaustive supplementary information from all applicants, said Mr. Kamenskikh.
2. EU for Russia's Part in Reactor Project in Southern France
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The European Union is for Russia taking part in building a thermonuclear reactor in Cadarache in the south of France.
"The European Union would like Russia to be a full-fledged participant in the international thermonuclear experimental reactor project. Its construction will begin in a few months on the premises of the Cadarache nuclear power plant", French Minister Delegate for European Affairs Claudie Haignere has said. She was addressing the audience in the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
In her opinion, at the current stage of relations Russia and the EU should come out for their deepening. She believes the sides should focus on energy. Haignere emphasized its prime importance for both Russia and the EU. "Still, manpower and funds attracted for the deepening of such cooperation are not at the due level", she sighed.
Also of importance in Russia-EU relations is aerospace cooperation. "We should make the Galileo and GLONASS systems mutually complementary and unfold a truly open airspace. In particular, levying charges for trans-Siberian service should be regulated", she said.
Former astronaut Claudi Haignere emphasized a new nature of Russia-EU relations in the field of space. It is due to the agreement concluded on the launch of Soyuz rockets from the Kourou space center, as well as the agreement on developing a launch vehicle to replace the heavy Arianne'5 carrier rocket, she said.
3. Russia, China Agree on Completing Construction of Tianwan N-Plant
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Russia and China ï¿½fully agreed on financial and technical questions on completing construction of the Tianwan nuclear power stationï¿½, said here on Wednesday deputy head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Ivan Kamenskikh, speaking in an interview with Tass before the opening of the sixth international Nuclear-2005 exhibition.
Commenting on the results of his inspection trip at the head of a delegation of Russian nuclear specialists to the construction site of the power station in Liangyungang, Kamenskikh noted that ï¿½the station is being built with a swing. Construction quality is good, and its readiness for loading fuel into reactors is very highï¿½. ï¿½Construction will be completed in 1.5-2 months at the most, and the approved plans for commissioning the project have not been changed,ï¿½ he noted.
ï¿½We agreed that both the Russian and Chinese sides would take utmost efforts to stick to the final deadlines of construction.ï¿½
Besides, according to Kamenskikh, his meetings with Chinese colleagues in Beijing and Lianyungang settled several issues on future operation of the station. He noted that the question on the use of worked-out nuclear fuel would be the next topic for talks when two power units of the station are put into commercial operation by the end of 2005. In Kamenskikhï¿½s opinion, its solution will lie in the economic sphere, since China, a nuclear power, has the right to leave worked-out nuclear fuel on its territory.
1. Zheleznogorsk Chemical Combine Received First Shipment of Spent Nuclear Fuel This Year
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21 tonne of the spent nuclear fuel arrived at Zheleznogorsk Chemical Combine from the Novovoronezh NPP.
The shipment reportedly went on without incidents. The special police squad guards from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs constantly guarded the train consisting of 7 cars. The Zheleznogorsk Combine specialists accompanied the train and monitored the state of the spent fuel day and night. The unloading operation was carried under water with the help of special equipment and then it was transferred to the sections for the long-term storage.
Top nuclear officials from more than 30 countries are at IAEA headquarters for two weeks in April to review the safety of nuclear power plants. The countries are parties to an international convention that binds them to achieve and maintain high standards of safety at land-based nuclear installations.
Under the international Convention on Nuclear Safety, parties meet every three years to "peer review" their national nuclear safety programmes. Countries submit reports covering, for example, the construction, operation and regulation of their civilian nuclear power plants.
This is the third review meeting of the Convention since it entered into force in 1996. The Convention was developed in response to international concerns over nuclear safety that evolved during the late 1970s and 1980s. The catalyst was the 1986 Chernobyl accident, when international implications of nuclear safety were magnified and interest intensified in internationally binding safety standards.
The Review Meetingï¿½s chair, Ms. Linda Keen of Canada, said the countries meeting in Vienna were collectively committed to maintaining high safety standards.
During the two-week review meeting in Vienna, parties will engage in a "peer review" process in which National Reports about the safety of commercial nuclear plants in each country will be collectively examined and discussed. The National Reports cover the years 2002, 2003, and 2004.
"This process allows the Conventionï¿½s Contracting Parties to share information freely, to more effectively improve safety measures within their respective countries, and to identify ways in which international cooperation can improve worldwide nuclear power plant safety," said Mr. Ken Brockman, Head of IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety.
This month India became the latest country to ratify the pact, bringing the number of ratifying countries to 56. All of the worldï¿½s 441 nuclear power plants are operating in countries where the Nuclear Safety Convention is in force.
The IAEA is the Depositary of the Convention, and provides Secretariat support to the Contracting Parties. The Convention is an "incentive-based" agreement that does not rely on controls and sanctions but rather on the concept of self assessment, information sharing and active peer review. "Neither the IAEA nor the Contracting Parties, therefore, serve in compliance roles. Instead, the interactions of the Peer Review process serve to entice open communications and corrective actions. To date, this has been quite effective," Mr. Brockman said.
2. Sandia National Laboratories International Security Conference
Department of Energy
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Thank you for inviting me today. I appreciate the tremendous effort undertaken by the Sandia National Laboratories to address the important and closely related goals of expanding the use of nuclear power to meet the worldï¿½s growing energy needsï¿½ and countering nuclear proliferation.
During my discussions with President Bush about becoming Secretary of Energy, two of the top priorities he outlined were securing our energy futureï¿½ with nuclear power as a key componentï¿½ and nuclear nonproliferation. The successful pursuit of both these objectives requires the unified commitment and cooperation of the technology community and government policy-makers. And so I applaud this conference for bringing these groups together to focus on such important issues.
Second, we must expand and accelerate our efforts to secure high-risk materials. This is an important area of work for the United States and our G-8 and other partners. Cooperation with Russia is naturally a first-order priority. This was highlighted in February when Presidents Bush and Putin met in Bratislava and agreed to further enhance our cooperation against the threat of nuclear terrorism.
We hope this enhanced cooperation helps advance such important nonproliferation efforts as the U.S. and Russian program to convert many tons of weapons-usable plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. The United States and Russia need to resolve liability issues that have delayed this programï¿½ in order for this critical effort to move forward.
In addition, great strides have been made to convert U.S. and Russian-origin research reactors from using high-enriched uranium fuel to low-enriched uranium. But more can be done. We should set a goal of working to end the commercial use of highly enriched uranium in research reactors. The availability today of advanced, high-density low-enriched uranium fuels allows greater progress toward this goal.
The U.S. Department of Energy, through its Global Threat Reduction Initiative, is helping to convert research reactors of U.S. and Russian designï¿½ and to repatriate fresh and spent high-enriched fuel that might be attractive targets to terrorists and proliferators. We enthusiastically invite other nations to join in this important initiative.
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