Due to the large volume of news articles associated with the IAEA Conference on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle in Moscow, all relevant articles that were published today will be included in the edition of Nuclear News to be published on Monday, July 18th.
New evidence suggests that Soviet agents could have concealed nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction inside the United States and other Western countries.
Polish and Czech officials told the U.S. authorities of the possible existence of Russian ï¿½suitcase nukesï¿½ in New York City soon after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, the WorldNetDaily website wrote quoting a report by Gordon Thomas and former CIA operative David M. Dastych.
The report says Al Qaida is determined to find those WMD and use them with the help of bribed Russian spies or special forces soldiers who have maintained their secret locations for all these years. U.S intelligence services could not find the weapons soon after the 2001 attacks but later they became concerned about efforts by terrorists to buy off former Soviet and current Russian agents with knowledge of the weapons.
Reporter, author of several books and former FBI consultant Paul L. Williams had earlier published a report on how Al Qaida had purchased some post-Soviet mini-nukes and hired Russians to help them operate those weapons.
Thomas and Dastych also report that Britainï¿½s MI5 had identified 32 spies of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service operating under full diplomatic cover from their London embassy. The spies reportedly have links to deep-cover KGB agents who, during the Cold War, hid scores of genetically engineered biological warfare weapons in Britainï¿½s countryside. MI5 believes the Russian spies are still actively concealing the locations of the germ vials.
Former KGB spymaster Alexander Kuzminov, quoted by the website, confirmed his agents planted the vials. He, too, believed Russian agents are still involved in guarding them. ï¿½Huge efforts and money was spent in our work,ï¿½ he explained. ï¿½It would be foolish to believe our people were stood down just because Russia took part in biological weapons talks in Geneva.ï¿½
2. Terrorists Size Up Nuclear Reactors. Uranium Reserves Permitting the Manufacture of Up to 1,000 Weapons of Mass Desstruction Are Stockpiled in 43 Countries
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye
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Specialists in the counterterrorism sphere have recently been expressing profound concern increasingly frequently. In the opinion of experts, a kind of transformation of terrorism is taking place, in the direction of the implementation of large-scale actions using modern technical means. In this way the criminals seek to cause mass casualties among civilians and destroy very important socioeconomic infrastructure facilities. Here priority significance is attached to having a psychological impact on broad strata of the population, creating panic, and demonstrating the extremists' strength and might and their readiness to stop at nothing for the sake of achieving the proclaimed goals.
At the same time there is an increase in the standard and diversity of training of the terrorists and the equipping of the gunmen -- often religious fanatics capable of acts of self-sacrifice. The attention of the ringleaders and ideologists of terrorism is drawn increasingly to weapons of mass destruction and means of bringing about various man-made disasters, which would guarantee to the greatest possible extent the attainment of the desired impact.
The attack of 11 September 2001 was a kind of apotheosis of terrorism. It graphically indicated the latter's transition to a new, highly dangerous paradigm -- "terrorism-war," directly involving the infliction of mass casualties and destruction. The special services have recorded direct attempts by extremists to acquire nuclear, chemical, radiological, and biological weapons and also to carry out acts of sabotage against potentially dangerous facilities.
Many countries of the world community were forced to adopt a number of preventive measures to safeguard facilities where attacks could form part of the terrorists' plans. In this respect, actions aimed at strengthening the protection, security, and defense of depots storing nuclear weapons and weapons-grade fissile materials, enterprises forming part of the nuclear fuel cycle -- especially nuclear power stations, on whose territory a large quantity of substances posing a radiation danger are stored -- and certain other components of the infrastructure, have proved fairly effective.
However, a group of highly prestigious American scientists have analyzed the state of security at research nuclear reactors and published the results of their work in the journal. Their conclusions are very worrying. One of them is that the general improvement in the nuclear security system has thus far applied to a far lesser extent to research reactors, which exist on the territory of more than 40 countries. Such serious concern is explained first and foremost by the fact that these reactors are the main nonmilitary consumers of highly enriched uranium (HEU).
The scientists believe that this situation has developed first and foremost as a result of the underestimation of the extent of danger posed by research reactors from the viewpoint of the possibility of terrorists carrying out acts of sabotage against them. That is why the world community has thus far not formulated international agreements making provision for a range of requirements with a view to ensuring the all-around protection of such important facilities. In the experts' opinion, all weapons-grade fissile materials should be regarded as nuclear weapons and the standards that are compulsory for nuclear weapons should be applied to them irrespective of their sphere of use or location.
The existing internationally recognized but by no means binding requirements with regard to nuclear suppliers in relation to the export of missile materials and nuclear equipment also apply indirectly to the situation of research reactors. Thus, the IAEA's general recommendations contain requirements for ensuring the protection of five or more kilograms of HEU, including HEU that is located at research reactors and is suitable for the creation of nuclear weapons. However, these are very general recommendations for ensuring the protection of these reactors against acts of sabotage. And a study carried out by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has shown that there are highly significant differences in requirements for ensuring the physical safety of research reactors in different countries, based on "differences in culture and the perception of the possible threat, financial and technical resources, and national legislation." This noncompulsory approach is particularly noticeable in the context of the far more deeply studied requirements and measures that have been put into practice for the all-around protection of nuclear power stations located on the territory of more than 30 countries.
From the terrorists' viewpoint research reactors are of special interest in two main respects. The first is that many research reactors operate on HEU, which could be used for the creation of a "gun"-type nuclear explosive device of relatively simple design. Let me remind you that a nuclear weapon of this type was blown up over Hiroshima without preliminary tests, and in 1998 five such nuclear warheads using HEU were exploded one after another at a test site in Pakistan.
In addition, plutonium is produced at a research reactor, and this could also be used, although to a lesser extent, for the underground creation of a nuclear weapon, admittedly of the considerably more complex design of the "implosive" type. Israel's reaction to France's delivery of a research reactor to Iraq in 1991 was highly characteristic in this regard. Considering that there would be fissile materials in this reactor that could be used to create a nuclear weapon, the Israeli leadership gave the order to carry out an aviation bombing raid, as a result of which the reactor was destroyed. In 1991, before the war in the Persian Gulf, when Iraq was planning to create a nuclear weapon, its specialists intended to use 36 kg of new and spent fuel supplied by France and the Soviet Union for the research reactor sold to Baghdad by Paris.
In 1998 the Georgian leadership, evaluating the situation that was taking shape in the country and the real threat from armed separatist formations, decided to remove fuel based on HEU from a research reactor and send it by plane to Britain. In August 2002 HEU was removed from a Soviet-made research reactor in Serbia in a sufficient quantity for the creation of two nuclear weapons, and returned to Russia because of fears of its possible seizure by terrorists or representatives of the special services of countries seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
Statistics show that about 80% of operating and shut-down research reactors in the world operate on uranium fuel supplied from the United States and Russia (USSR), and therefore the main responsibility for its subsequent fate rests with Washington and Moscow. On the instructions of the US Energy Department, over a number of years the Argonne National Laboratory has carried out work on the conversion of its own HEU-based research reactors, and those supplied to other countries, into reactors operating on low enriched uranium (LEU) with a uranium-235 content of less than 20%, which is unsuitable for the creation of nuclear weapons without a further highly complex enrichment process. As a result of the work carried out, significant quantities of HEU were returned to the United States. In this way about half the research reactors previously supplied by the United States to other countries were converted. The United States recently adopted a decision to convert a further four large research reactors located on its own territory from HEU to LEU by 2012.
The US leadership's concern over the state of security at research reactors is indicated by a statement made by President George Bush in February 2004. He said that "the United States will help states to stop using weapons-grade uranium in research reactors. I call on a large number of countries to make their contribution to these efforts."
In the Soviet Union in the 1980s they also started to implement a program for the conversion from HEU of research reactors formally supplied to East European countries, North Korea, Iraq, and Vietnam. However, at that time the program was not completed because of financial difficulties. At present the conversion to LEU of research reactors, including those on the territory of the former Soviet republics, is taking place in Russia.
There is no doubt that in order to avert the threat of HEU falling into the hands of terrorists it is necessary to complete the conversion of research reactors as quickly as possible, to which end serious efforts should be made by the leading countries of the world, including through assistance to Russia within the framework of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Recently an agreement was reached between the political leadership of Russia and United States on stepping up this work, and this was instigated to a significant degree by the increased scope of terrorist activities. However, despite the measures being adopted, even today there are about 200 research reactors in the world, some of which have been placed out of action but not converted, and there is still HEU at some of them. According to IAEA estimates, in total there is still about 20 tonnes of HEU in such reactors on the territory of 43 countries, and if it was used in full, 800-1,000 warheads could be manufactured. A large part of this HEU is in spent fuel, but the level of radiation is insufficiently high to ensure reliable self-defense against seizure by terrorists.
A gradation of research reactors by capacity -- from 100 kW to 250 MW -- has been defined. And each of them contains a certain quantity of HEU. In a small reactor there is up to 5 kg of HEU, in a medium-sized one up to 10 kg, and in a large one up to 40 kg. Undoubtedly these parameters will also determine the level of interest in a given reactor among terrorists who decide to try to acquire nuclear fuel. However, the implementation of the reactor conversion program will make it possible significantly to reduce the threat of terrorists acquiring HEU and using it to create nuclear weapons.
The second factor explaining the terrorists' heightened attention toward research reactors is connected with the vulnerability of these facilities to acts of sabotage with the possibility of highly dangerous consequences. Extremists have the objective of achieving, as a result of an act of sabotage, the operation of a "big dirty bomb" which will discharge radioactive materials into the environment.
The classical illustration of the possible consequences of serious accidents at nuclear infrastructure facilities is the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. Of course, the scale of an accident at any research reactor would be considerably smaller, but even in this case a considerable number of people could fall within its sphere and be subject to marked radiation effects and particularly profound psychological effects, which is what the terrorists mainly gamble on.
It is expedient to examine the sabotage threat factor by looking at the example of the vulnerability assessment and package of measures to avert terrorist actions at the American nuclear reactors analyzed by the US scientists. Here it can be assumed that approximately the same picture is characteristic of other countries that possess such reactors.
In examining how realistic acts of sabotage against reactors of this type may be, it should be noted that, in contrast to nuclear power stations, a relatively wide range of users have access to them, and their relative openness to visits is combined with the smaller number and lower effectiveness of measures carried out to ensure security. It is well known that at a nuclear power station only the duty shift of operators and the armed guards are present around the clock. At research reactors, protection during working hours is usually based on unarmed security officers monitoring the users' access. At night time the main protection measures amount to the locking of the entrance gates, doors, and windows and patrolling of the territory by an armed guard who periodically turns up close to the reactor. This suggests that the administrative and technical management assesses the potential danger emanating from incidents with research reactors as significantly less than for nuclear power stations.
However, it should be borne in mind that research reactors, as a rule, are located within the city limits or close to university campuses, while nuclear power stations are located at considerable distances from population centers. This leads to an increased level of danger posed by possible acts of sabotage against research reactors for the population of nearby population centers.
It is also well known that, in the compounds of nuclear power stations, strong barriers are installed to prevent a breakthrough by heavy vehicles, even using explosives, as well as numerous sensors belonging to the surveillance system, while the external fences of the nuclear power stations are at considerable distances from the reactors. The protection of research reactors, however, consists for the most part of a wire fence with neither barriers against a breakthrough by vehicles nor optical-electronic detection systems.
The less thorough organization of the security and defense system for research reactors, which is particularly marked in the context of the high level of protection of nuclear power stations, can be explained first and foremost by the fact that they pose a lower level of radiation danger in all cases of "unplanned" situations, since they contain a far smaller quantity of radioactive isotopes. Moreover, the lower temperature of decay in the cores of research reactors reduces the probability of meltdown and the discharge of fission products along the lines of what happened in the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station reactor. At the same time it should be borne in mind that despite the smaller scale of a possible accident at research reactors, the radioactivity of the breakdown products would be measured in millions of curies, a significant proportion of which could be discharged into the environment.
On the basis of their analysis of the security status of research reactors and the possible nature of terrorist threats, the US scientists warn: The most dangerous consequences could take place in attacks on reactors of medium (1-10 MW) and large (10-250 MW) capacity. Here there is a significant quantity of radioactive materials, and in addition they are more weakly protected against outside attack than nuclear power station reactors. The requirements formulated by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission with regard to the size of accident safety zones for nuclear power stations with a 10-mile radius do not stipulate the obligatory creation of similar zones, even of a smaller size, for research reactors.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules for nuclear power stations also stipulate the need to ensure their protection against possible acts of sabotage on the basis of the so-called "basic design threat." The basic design threat envisages fairly hard threat scenarios presupposing the participation of several groups of saboteurs attacking simultaneously from four sides, using heavy vehicles loaded with explosives and also drawing on the assistance of a member of the nuclear power station's staff. Another possible scenario for an act of sabotage consists in the intention of a group of terrorists secretly to place an explosive device (also with the possible help of an employee at the power station) close to the reactor core or the new and spent fuel storage area, and operate it by remote control. As a result of the explosion, a significant quantity of radioactive materials would be discharged into the environment.
It should be recalled that scenarios for acts of sabotage that are to some degree similar to this, using powerful explosive devices, have already been used on several occasions by terrorists against a number of American targets, although admittedly these have not yet included reactors. Similar acts of sabotage were committed against the US Embassy in Beirut in 1983, in the same year against the US Marines barracks and French headquarters in Lebanon, in 1993 at the World Trade Center in New York, in 1995 at the federal building in Oklahoma City, in 1996 against American military housing in Saudi Arabia, and in 1998 against two US Embassies in East Africa.
Specialists also point to the possibility of the terrorists using rocket-propelled antitank weapons to carry out a strike against a reactor's most important security systems. In particular, they could put rockets on truck, launch them against a reactor within direct sight range, and put its control system out of action. This could lead to a failure of the facility's cooling system and an increase in reactivity (the intensiveness of the nuclear chain reaction), as a result of which the reactor core would melt down and discharge decomposition products. Nor can we exclude the possibility of suicide terrorists using a hijacked aircraft with full fuel tanks to carry out a powerful strike against a research reactor.
The US scientists analyze a number of fundamental factors determining the degree of risk with regard to acts of sabotage against research reactors. They have determined that the most sensitive and least considered factor is the developing political situation. In their view, nuclear installations in a country at war or in conditions of internal political instability will attract greater attention from terrorists with a view to the commission of acts of sabotage than similar installations in countries with a stable domestic political situation. The situation could be exacerbated by the fact that the country might lack the financial resources and technical means necessary to ensure reliable protection of nuclear installations against attack by extremists.
A significant role in the criminals' choice of facilities to attack could be played by their location. As already mentioned, the locations of research reactors are most often in suburban districts and university campuses, in industrial zones, and on the territories of national laboratories and research centers. Reactors in large population centers where acts of sabotage would have the most serious consequences will be the most attractive to terrorists. In second and third place in terms of their significance to the terrorists are reactors in suburban districts and those that are in remote national laboratories. This ranking of reactors by the degree of their attractiveness to terrorists in choosing facilities for the commission of acts of sabotage in turn determines the level of requirements for their system of protection and defense, on the "action-reaction" principle.
Not least, the terrorists' choice will also be influenced by the general level of security culture characteristic both of the potential targets of attack and of the country as a whole. Obviously, the more comprehensively the practice of ensuring security at a facility with a research reactor has been developed, the less attractive a target it will be for the extremists. In this respect the most effective measures are those relating to the physical protection of research reactors at the territorially remote, self-contained sites of national laboratories, which, moreover, have been continuously improved over the decades. It is well known that security here is carried out by highly professionally trained federal security forces. The least safe in this regard are reactors in university campuses protected by the local police. The security culture also includes the system of training and checking of security personnel; the reliability of physical barriers around the facility; tracking sensors and checkpoints at the entrance to buildings; the introduction of modern systems of communication; and the level of collaboration with the local and regional security services.
By way of conclusions, it should be noted first and foremost that research reactors could represent fairly tempting targets for terrorists with the aim of seizing HEU and committing acts of sabotage leading to the creation of radiation contamination zones of considerable size. Taking into account the reality of such a threat, the world community should formulate and adopt for unfailing implementation legislative provisions to avert such threats. The administration and operators of research reactors should constantly analyze the reactors' security status from the viewpoint of the possible nature of the threats, a kind of individual "basic design threat." Specific practical measures should be drawn up to avert various threats, and if security cannot be fully ensured, to minimize the probable negative consequences. And it is necessary constantly to improve the monitoring of the personnel at reactors, as well as their numerous users, from the viewpoint of professionalism and the security culture.
1. Russia, U.S. Work Out Joint Measures to Protect Nuclear Facilities
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Speaking at a news conference in Moscow on 12 July, Atomic Energy Agency Director Aleksandr Rumyantsev said that the U.S.-Russian Working Group on Nuclear Security has prepared and presented to both countries' presidents a report on the protection of their nuclear facilities, RIA-Novosti and other media reported. The report notes nuclear storage sites and facilities in Russia and the United States are well protected but additional measures are needed to face new challenges and threats. Rumyantsev said specialists from both countries worked out recommendations on how to improve the physical protection of nuclear facilities and create a better monitoring system. Rumyantsev also said the case of former Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov, who was arrested in Switzerland in May and accused of money laundering (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2005), has not affected bilateral cooperation.
2. Report on Nuclear Cooperation to be Submitted to Russian and U.S. Presidents
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A Russian senior official said Tuesday that a Russian-American interdepartmental high-level working group on nuclear security cooperation would deliver a new report to the presidents of Russia and the United States by December 31.
"We proposed a program of measures to be implemented and we will report on that to the presidents every six months," said Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power (Rosatom). "We will account for the implementation of measures that we proposed in this report [the first report published in early July] by December 31."
He said a vast volume of work had been carried out "within the trilateral framework of cooperation between the International Atomic Energy Agency, Russia and the U.S.".
Rumyantsev said the three parties had not only developed a meticulous approach to the security of fissile materials, but also had conducted considerable scientific research and made equipment to detect and spot fissile materials without discovering their specific properties.
The Agency head said: "Russia and the U.S. learnt to exchange information without infringing on national sovereignty in terms of confidential information."
The high-level group's first report focused on implementing the goals of a control list in the nuclear security sector.
"The bilateral interdepartmental high-level working group set out specific measures in all basic sectors, which were determined by the Russian and U.S. presidents at the Russian-U.S. summit in Bratislava," the official said.
"The group defined priorities for returning fresh and spent highly-enriched uranium fuel, which had been provided for American and Russian-made reactors in third countries, re-equipping such reactors for the use of low enriched uranium and developing alternative kinds of fuel," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
3. Russia, U.S. Will Not Fortify Nuclear Facilities - Rumyantsev
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Russia and the U.S. are not planning to increase the physical defense of their nuclear facilities, Head of the Russian Nuclear Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev told a Tuesday press conference in Moscow.
"Increasing the number of armed units [at nuclear sites] is not planned. We are talking about technically upgrading defense systems," Rumyantsev said. He noted that these security systems are aimed at preventing trespassers from entering nuclear sites and monitoring the objects' condition.
The working group reported to the Russian and U.S. presidents "in the last week of June.""We proposed measures that we will carry out," Rumyantsev said.
The working group was created following a meeting between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in Bratislava, Rumyantsev noted. The meeting addressed issues relating to protecting nuclear facilities from terrorists. The group has been working for three months and has developed certain recommendations on strengthening security at nuclear sites, "taking modern challenges into account," Rumyantsev said.
The report notes the need for special services that would monitor and "adequately react to possible threats of nuclear facilities being infiltrated," Rumyantsev said.
Both Russia and the U.S. have such services, Rumyantsev noted. Both countries conduct training and invite each other's representatives to take part in them. "The question of creating joint units may arouse during seminars," Rumyantsev said.
4. Russian Atomic Chief Calls for Better Nuclear Security After London Blasts
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Russia's atomic chief called Tuesday for nuclear security to be stepped up following last week's bloody terrorist bombings in London.
Federal Atomic Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev told a news conference that Russian and U.S. nuclear sites were well protected, but that "new challenges arise which must be resisted, and of course lines of defense and technologies must constantly be improved."
Rumyantsev said that nuclear security recommendations, prepared by a Russian-U.S. working group, had been submitted last month to the two country's presidents.
At their February summit, George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin agreed to upgrade security at Russia's nuclear plants and weapons stockpiles, to provide new procedures for responding to possible terrorist attacks and to set up a program to keep nuclear fuel from being diverted for use in nuclear weapons.
"In connection with the changing contemporary threats, new challenges arise which must be resisted - today we understand this when an appalling terror attack has just occurred," Rumyantsev said.
He highlighted the danger of radioactive and fissile materials being used in so-called dirty bombs and weapons of mass destruction.
Rumyantsev said the specially formed U.S.-Russian Senior Interagency Group would produce a similar report every six months.
Its recommendations deal with upgrading emergency response capabilities to cope with nuclear incidents, sharing "best practices" to improve security at nuclear facilities and returning fresh and spent high-enriched uranium from U.S.- and Russian design research reactors in third countries.
The group is chaired by Rumyantsev and U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.
On July 7, bombings linked by the British authorities to Islamic terrorists killed more than 50 people aboard three London subway trains and a bus.
5. US, Russia Plan To Defend Nuclear Installations
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Moscow and Washington are to cooperate in bolstering the security of nuclear sites against terror attacks, the head of Russia's federal atomic agency said Tuesday. "Protection technology has to be constantly perfected because of the appearance of new threats," Alexander Rumyantsev said at a press conference.
Russian and US nuclear and defence specialists, as well as diplomats from both sides, have worked for three months to devise measures aimed at strengthening checks on radioactive material and sensitive technology, Rumyantsev said.
The cooperation plan has been sent to US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who first announced the idea at their February summit in the Slovak capital Bratislava.
At the press conference, Rumyantsev also raised the possibility of joint US-Russian rapid reaction units to ensure nuclear security in the two former Cold War nuclear foes.
1. OSCE Blocks Terrorist Access To Radioactive Sources - FM
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The OSCE decision on high-risk radioactive materials proves of Russian-U.S. fruitful cooperation in the fight against terrorism, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday the OSCE Standing Committee resolution on counteracting the threat posed by high-risk radioactive materials "proves of Russian-U.S. fruitful interaction in the fight against terrorism."
The resolution, which has been initiated and prepared by Russia and the U.S., shows "the OSCE growing contribution to fulfilling this important task," the statement says.
OSCE member-states obliged to join the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and the Guidance of the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources and comply with these documents. At present, 40 OSCE countries, including Russia, joined the IAEA Code of Conduct. Twenty-eight OSCE countries, including Russia, said they intend to ensure effective control over export and import of high-risk radioactive materials.
Due to the OSCE resolution "all OSCE countries obliged to comply with the IAEA Code of Conduct that are of the greatest relevance to preventing terrorists or those that harbour them from gaining access to high-risk radioactive sources," the statement says.
2. Russia Proposes Creating Reserve Stock of Nuclear Fuel Under IAEA Control
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The Federal Nuclear Power Agency (Rosatom) is proposing that the IAEA control a reserve stock of nuclear fuel, Rosatom head Alexander Rumyantsev said Wednesday.
Rumyantsev said at a conference on the nuclear fuel cycle, "We can work out a scheme to set up a guaranteed reserve stock of nuclear fuel, which would be placed under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This reserve would guarantee fuel deliveries to nuclear power plants in the event that commercial deliveries stop."
Rumyantsev said it was important to start working on a mechanism to guarantee nuclear fuel deliveries. He said that nuclear fuel was currently supplied on the basis of long and short-term commercial contracts.
"The nuclear fuel market is well established and is stable. Taking a one-sided approach [to this market] could cause serious commercial upheavals and destroy the current equilibrium," Rumyantsev said. He said some countries built nuclear fuel cycle facilities even although they did not have developed nuclear power industries.
"We are convinced that increased control over deliveries of sensitive [nuclear] technology should be accompanied by new measures that would guarantee that states who had voluntarily given up their national nuclear technologies and who met all their obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would have access to the nuclear fuel cycle and the technologies available on the world market," Rumyantsev said.
In February 2005, Russia and Iran signed two important agreements: an agreement on the return of spent nuclear fuel from the nuclear power plant in the south Iranian town of Bushehr (Persian Gulf coast) to Russia, and a protocol on the terms for nuclear fuel supplies to the first unit of the nuclear power plant Bushehr, which Russia has been building since the mid-1990s.
Russian nuclear fuel will be in Bushehr in late 2005-early 2006. The plant is to be commissioned at the end of 2006.
Some 100 metric tons of fuel will be delivered by special flights under IAEA control. In Iran, spent fuel will be kept for three to four years in a special reservoir near the active zone. Rumyantsev said that there was no access to the active zones of water moderated reactors, and that the fuel would be delivered to Russia when there was a sufficient quantity.
Rumyantsev said the fuel could not be sent to Russia immediately due to its high radioactivity and temperature. The levels would fall over the next three years and then the fuel could be transported.
1. Iran's Nuclear Development Global Issue - Rumyantsev
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Large-scale projects in the development of the Iran nuclear power sector should be discussed on the international level, head of the Russian Federal Atomic Agency Alexander Rumyantsev said.
Rumyantsev spoke at a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday, commenting on the possibilities of Russia taking part in large-scale nuclear projects in Iran.
Russia has an inter-governmental agreement with Iran on the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power station, which should be brought into operation as planned in 2006, he said. "If Iran is going to develop a large-scale nuclear sector, this should be discussed internationally," Rumyantsev said.
2. Iranian Nuclear Team in Moscow, Seeking New Partnerships
Eurasia Daily Monitor
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Senior Iranian officials have indicated that Russia could become a partner in lucrative projects to build 20 nuclear power stations in Iran. "A plan has been approved in parliament obliging the government to study the possibility of building 20 nuclear power stations. Many countries, including Russia, could participate," Kazem Jalali, head of the Iranian parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, announced in Moscow. Jalali, heading the Iran-Russia Parliamentary Friendship Group on an official visit to Russia, made the remarks at a meeting with Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom). Jalali told Russian officials that Iran still intends to produce its own fuel (IRNA, July 9).
In February 2005, Russia and Iran signed a nuclear fuel supply agreement under which Iran has to return spent nuclear fuel from the reactor. Tehran finally agreed to sign the deal after extended disputes (see EDM, March 3).
Meeting with Jalali, Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the Russian State Duma, urged expanded cooperation with Iran. He also hailed bilateral ties as "profound and stable," adding that Iran's participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an observer was of "high importance." Iran attaches special significance to Russia's role in international developments, Jalali noted.
Another visiting Iranian official also advocated expanding nuclear ties with Russia. Iran intends to continue cooperation with Russia in nuclear energy, Mohammad Khoshchehreh, an aide to president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced in Moscow. "There are no concerns that Russia might be ousted from the Iranian market." Iran is satisfied with how Russian specialists are building the Bushehr nuclear power plant, he added (Interfax, July 8). Khoshchehreh visited Moscow for talks on continued nuclear cooperation and also to meet with Russia's top nuclear official, Rumyantsev.
However, some Russian experts seem to think otherwise. Russia is too slow in helping to develop the Iranian nuclear energy sector, according to Rajab Safarov, head of the Modern Iranian Studies Center, a Moscow-based think tank seen as close to Tehran's interests. "If Russia does not launch Bushehr in 2006, Western companies could push Russia out of the Iranian power industry market," he warned (Interfax, June 28).
Tehran's hints that Russia could join projects to build 20 nuclear power stations, coupled with warnings from pro-Iranian experts, are seen as Tehran's strategy to nudge Russia to intensify nuclear cooperation with Iran.
Moscow is yet to comment on Iran's 20 nuclear power station concept. However, a number of Russian officials have indicated that Russia looks forward to boosting nuclear ties with Iran. Most recently, Sergei Stepashin, head of the Russian Audit Chamber, the country's financial watchdog, said Russia was interested in building more units at Bushehr. "While visiting the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant being built by Russian specialists, Russian and Iranian officials discussed whether Russia would take part in the construction of the second, third, and fourth units," Stepashin said, adding that "Russia is prepared for and genuinely interested in this" (RIA-Novosti, July 5).
Last month, Rosatom head Rumyantsev reiterated that Russia wanted to bid for contracts to build more reactors in Iran. "When Tehran announces new tenders to construct nuclear reactors, we'll take part in them," he said on June 29. "Tehran plans to build another six nuclear reactors," he claimed.
Rumyantsev's comments followed Russian President Vladimir Putin's remarks that his country would continue its nuclear cooperation with Iran after Ahmadinejad's election. "We are ready to continue cooperation with Iran in the atomic energy sector, while taking into account our international obligations in the area of non-proliferation, [and] to cooperate on finding a mutually acceptable political solution to existing questions," Putin said last month. Ahmadinejad reportedly indicated plans to continue the nuclear program.
Moscow has insisted that Russia's cooperation with Iran is conditional on the transparency of Tehran's policies, its respect of IAEA decisions, and its renunciation of any nuclear military program. Moreover, the Kremlin remains keen to strengthen its partnership with Tehran. Last February, President Putin at a meeting in Moscow with visiting Iranian Secretary of the Iranian National Security Council, Hasan Rouhani, reiterated his readiness to develop cooperation with Iran. Putin also accepted an invitation to visit Tehran later this year.
In the meantime, Moscow still hopes to overcome American objections to nuclear ties with Iran. According to a commentary by the Russian official news agency RIA-Novosti, "Moscow helps Tehran develop its civilian nuclear power sector, and U.S. criticism of Moscow has recently come to a halt, because Washington knows only too well that, because of its proximity to Iran, Russia is much more interested in keeping Tehran away from nuclear weapons than the U.S. and even Europe" (RIA-Novosti, July 8). However, it remains to be seen whether Russia's potentially massive involvement in the Iranian nuclear sector could be tolerated internationally.
3. Russia Sets Dates for Controversial Iranian Nuclear Plant
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The Bushehr nuclear power station being built by Russia in Iran should be ready to start operating by the end of the year and start test operations in mid-2006, the director of Russia's atomic energy agency said.
Test runs at the station are planned to start in June 2006, Alexander Rumyantsev told reporters.
He added that Russia's cooperation with Iran, which has raised hackles in the United States, was set to expand under the Islamic republic's president-elect Mahmood Ahmadinejad.
"We are not violating any norms or international commitments by our cooperation with Iran," Rumyantsev told journalists. "The new Iranian president made clear in his first statements that it is possible to further develop cooperation with Russia."
Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran has been frowned on by Washington, which believes that the technology could be put to military use.
An Iranian parliamentary delegation that visited Moscow last week said that Russia could be chosen to help build up to 20 more nuclear power stations in Iran.
1. Russia Expecting No Breakthroughs at North Korea Talks - Ministry
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The Russian Foreign Ministry is not expecting any breakthroughs at the next round of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, a deputy minister said.
"Following an interval in the talks lasting more than a year, it would be too optimistic to expect any breakthroughs," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alekseyev said in the wake of North Korea's and the United States' decision to resume talks.
The fourth round of talks is due to take place in Beijing in late July.
Alekseyev said Moscow nevertheless hoped certain progress would be achieved at the fourth round in comparison with previous rounds.
"The parties should naturally confirm they understand the final goals of the settlement process," said Alekseyev.
The parties to talks on North Korea are Russia, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, and Japan. The dialogue hit an impasse after three rounds in Beijing in August 2003 over differences between North Korea and the U.S. Last week, Pyongyang and Washington agreed to resume talks and hold their fourth round in late July.
North Korea announced it had nuclear weapons on February 12 this year.
2. Russia Urges Comprehensive Approach to DPRK's Re-Entry Into NPT
Xinhua News Agency
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Russia called for a comprehensive approach Wednesday to the possible re-entry by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying the issue should be resolved ina package solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev told the Itar-Tass news agency the issue of the DPRK re-joining the NPT is likely to be solved with a comprehensive approach, which tackles the issue with other related issues of the nuclear standoff on theKorean Peninsula.
"Primarily, it is necessary to remove concerns of the DPRK and other participants in the talks," Alexeyev said, adding it is Russia and other partners' priority at the upcoming six-party talks.
The DPRK and the United States agreed Saturday to re-open the six-party talks in late July. Three rounds of such talks had been held in Beijing since August 2003, but the talks have been stalledsince last June as Pyongyang accused Washington of adopting a hostile policy toward the DPRK.
Alexeyev stressed Russia favors providing a security guarantee to the DPRK, saying it constitutes an important part of the solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and Russia is ready to do so on the multilateral and bilateral basis.
Progress may be made at the upcoming six-party talks toward resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, Alexeyev said.
As the U.S. is trying to affect North Korea by tough talk, Russia strives to provide that all the parties in the upcoming negotiations on Pyongyangï¿½s nuclear program be equal in rights. Only this can guarantee progress in negotiations, Russia believes.
A top Russian diplomat said Wednesday that he expected progress in the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program this month.
"We fully expect a degree of progress and a step forward, compared to the agreements reached in previous meetings," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev told the Interfax news agency in an interview.
In separate comments, Alexeyev said that Russia had argued for offering security guarantees to the isolated regime in Pyongyang to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons program, says the AP.
"We consider the provision of security guarantees an important part of resolving the nuclear issue. We are ready to participate in providing such guarantees, on a bilateral and multilateral basis," ITAR-Tass quoted him as saying.
"We believe the main topic for the six-party talks should remain the resolution of questions linked to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Alexeyev said. "As far as the concerns of other participants, including humanitarian issues, in our view these should be dealt with on a bilateral basis."
Talking about "humanitarian issues," Alexander Alexeyev meant Japanï¿½s intention to use the six-party talks to resolve the cases of Japanese kidnapped decades ago by North Korean agents.
North Korea announced on Saturday that it would end a yearlong boycott and return to the six-party nuclear negotiations, which involve South Korea, China, Japan, the United States and Russia. The new round will open in Beijing during the week of July 25.
On Monday North Korea once again declared it would not need nuclear weapons if the U.S. didnï¿½t threaten it. But the U.S. seems not to hear the claim: yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States wanted "a strategic decision on the part of the North that they are indeed ready to give up their nuclear weapons program."
1. Russia Dismantles Train-Mounted Missile Launcher
Global Security Newswire
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Russia is this week dismantling its fifth train-mounted missile launcher this year, Interfax reported yesterday (see GSN, June 16).
ï¿½The launcher to be destroyed was dismounted from the combat railway train missile system of the Kostroma missile division that had been disbanded earlier this year. There are plans that the destruction will have been over by the end of the week,ï¿½ said a Defense Ministry spokesman (Interfax/BBC Monitoring, July 11).
1. Rosatom Offers to Store Foreign Spent Nuclear Fuel in Siberia
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Rosatom hopes to make money from processing foreign spent nuclear fuel, the daily Vremya Novostei reported Thursday.
The head of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency (Rosatom), Alexander Rumyantsev, spoke at the international conference held by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that opened yesterday.
Rumyantsev said that Rosatom proposed setting up the first facility to store foreign spent fuel at the mining and chemical plant in the closed Siberian town of Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory. Igor Rybalchenko, an official from the national industrial scientific research institute for energy technologies, said the upgrade of the Zheleznogorsk plant would cost about $4.7 billion.
Investment will be needed just to ensure that Russia can store its own spent nuclear fuel. Yevgeny Kudryavtsev, head of Rosatom's Industry and Nuclear Technology Department, said that Russia had accumulated 16,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel, and that by 2015 it would have to be able to store 24,000 tons. Foreign investment would allow the plant's nuclear storage capacity to be almost doubled, from 40,000 tons to 70,000 tons.
Greenpeace Russia is questioning whether Russian nuclear plants can guarantee the security of nuclear materials. Greenpeace's energy program coordinator, Vladimir Chuprov, said that by agreeing to the construction of international nuclear storage facilities, the IAEA was in effect giving the go ahead to other countries to build reactors, including countries with unstable political regimes.
Greenpeace doubts that energy companies in developed countries will use Rosatom's services. In the four years since it became legal for Russia to import foreign spent nuclear fuel, Rosatom has not concluded any major deals with western energy companies. In addition, the actual level of investment required may exceed the Rosatom estimates. "Even in a best case scenario Russia might just break even by storing foreign spent fuel and waste," Chuprov said.
2. Russia Continues to Accept Foreign Nuclear Waste for Storage
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About 900 kilograms of spent nuclear fuel from six countries are currently stored at sites across Russia, a senior figure in the country's nuclear industry said Thursday.
Addressing an international conference, Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Non-Proliferation Issues, Alexei Lebedev, deputy chief executive of Techsnabexport, said the nuclear waste had come from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Libya, Latvia and Uzbekistan.
Lebedev, whose company exports goods and services produced by enterprises under the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, added that bringing spent nuclear fuel into Russia for storage was only possible under "the appropriate agreements."
He said that in the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet Union had a number of research nuclear reactors built in other countries as a way of achieving political influence, so now there were more than 29,700 spent fuel rods left over from the communist era, most of them in eastern Europe.
More than 200 spent fuel rods will be brought into Russia from research reactors in Uzbekistan in the near future, Lebedev said. He also reported that a program had just been drawn up on the transit transportation of nuclear waste into Russia via Kazakhstan.
3. Russia Faces Difficulty in Spent Nuclear Fuel Market
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Russia on Thursday admitted difficulties with its plans for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, in the face of competition from France and opposition by the United States.
Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Russian atomic energy agency, acknowledged that since Moscow adopted a June 2001 law permitting it to import nuclear waste "we have not imported a single gramme of spent nuclear fuel produced abroad".
His comments do not include fuel from power stations built by the Soviet Union in eastern Europe.
ï¿½France does not let new players enter the market," he told reporters.
"And the Americans who criticise us over Iran do not accept the importation to Russia of (spent nuclear) fuel which is under their control in different countries," he added.
Russia was not yet able to reprocess large amounts of fuel, he said, adding: "Our industry can only reprocess some hundreds of tonnes of fuel a year."
ï¿½But Russia can develop its industry."
Russia continues to import spent nuclear fuel from Romania, Bulgaria or Serbia under Soviet-era contracts.
Russia defended plans to accept nuclear waste from other countries under international monitoring, despite protests from environmental groups.
Russia's top nuclear official said that Moscow was considering participating in an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) project under which up to seven countries would store much of the world's nuclear waste.
"We are currently studying the project," Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia's atomic energy agency, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Rumyantsev spoke at the start of a nuclear conference in the Russian capital.
The deputy head of the IAEA, Yury Sokolov, said international centres for nuclear waste were needed because "national programmes for treatment and burial ... are not an efficient way of resolving the problem of waste."
But the international environmental watchdog group Greenpeace denounced the plans.
Outside the conference building, a Greenpeace activist hung a placard saying "Here They Sell Our Future" on a statue and pasted a radiation sign on the statue's pedestal.
"Russian laws currently forbid the definitive burial of radioactive waste," Vladimir Churov from Greenpeace's Russia office told AFP, explaining that the law authorises only the temporary stocking of nuclear waste to be recycled.
"That's why the Russian atomic energy agency is appealing to the IAEA as a way of giving legitimacy to international burial zones on Russian territory under the control of the United Nations," Churov explained.
Russia is already importing some 100 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from Ukraine, Bulgaria and Hungary under Soviet-era contracts signed before legislation on nuclear waste imports was changed in 2001, Churov said.
The Russian energy ministry estimated in 2001 that the country's budget could earn up to 20 billion dollars (16 billion euros) over 10 years from the project, according to the Vedomosti business daily.
5. Nuclear Wastes Reprocessing and Utilization in Russia Discussed
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The reprocessing and utilization of spent nuclear fuel will be discussed by up to seven countries at a conference starting Wednesday and running through Friday, said Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power Rosatom.
"The question of five to seven countries participating in spent nuclear fuel reprocessing and utilization is being discussed now," Rumyantsev said.
The conference, organized by Rosatom with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will focus on creating an international center for spent nuclear fuel management, using the state-owned Mining and Chemical Processing Plant, an underground facility for spent nuclear fuel storage, dumping, reprocessing and transportation, near Krasnoyarsk in East Siberia.
For the first time in the last 50 years, "the spent nuclear fuel stockpile is equivalent to a 4-storey apartment building," Rumyantsev said. "My prognosis is that, if in the next few centuries the world's spent nuclear fuel goes unprocessed, it could fill up a soccer field."
However, IAEA Deputy Director Yuri Sokolov said the exact number of countries interested in founding of an international center for spent nuclear fuel storage and reprocessing has yet to be defined.
"We are at the beginning of that road," Sokolov said, adding that some countries are planning to develop their methods of nuclear power engineering in the near future.
China has a six-gigawatt generating capacity now and intends to increase it to 40 gigawatts by 2030. India plans to boost its generating capacity 10-fold in 20 years.
6. Russia Already Has 16,000 Tons of Spent Nuclear Fuel
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Russia already has 16,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, an official from the Rosatom federal agency for nuclear energy said Wednesday.
Speaking at a conference on comprehensive approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear non-proliferation, Rosatom representative Yevgeny Kudryavtsev said that 11 power units from high-power pressure-tube reactors and 15 power units from water cooled power reactors processed 750 tons of spent nuclear fuel a year.
Kudryavtsev also said that Russia would receive 24,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel for storage by 2015. He said, "The geological isolation of the fuel (until 2015) will cost $10 billion, and storage will cost $105.01 million a year." He added that it was therefore necessary to consider how to optimize spending on the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
"We are now looking for alternative technologies for processing spent nuclear fuel and we are investigating the application of new compact technologies for disposing of the fuel," Kudryavtsev said.
He said that every ton of processed spent nuclear fuel produced 100 kg of spent nuclear fuel concentrate for long-term storage in mines and up to 900 kg of regenerated uranium.
Kudryavtsev said the mining and chemical plant (in Zheleznogorsk, 50 km south of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia) was the best place for disposing of and storing spent nuclear fuel at the international level.
"All the nuclear storage platforms at the plant are locked in a mountain. It has a good transportation infrastructure and well trained personnel," said Kudryavtsev.
Participants in the conference, which began in Moscow on Wednesday, are discussing the technological viability of creating an international center for handling spent nuclear fuel at the Zheleznogorsk plant.
7. Russia To Supply Chinese Power Station With Nuclear Fuel
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Russia is to supply a Chinese nuclear reactor with fuel starting in August, the head of the Russian atomic energy agency said Wednesday.
Alexander Rumiantsev told the Itar-Tass news agency the fuel, which is already in China, will be delivered to the Tianwan power plant, a Russian-built facility in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, next month.
Work on the plant was now going ahead on schedule, he said, after a delay in activating the reactor, which should have become operational in 2004.
Rumiantsev added that the plant should enter service this October.
1. Moscow Conference on Multilateral Approaches for Nuclear Fuel Cycle
International Atomic Energy Agency
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Representatives from Russia, the United States, France, and other countries are meeting at a Moscow conference this week to examine multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle from organizational and technical aspects. The conference is organized by the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) with cooperation by the IAEA, and follows an Expert Groupï¿½s report on the issue earlier this year.
In opening the meeting, Mr. Yuri Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy, cited the security-related challenges facing the development of nuclear power and its fuel cycle, even as more countries show interest in applying the technology safely for electricity production.
"The IAEA is addressing the challenges through implementing strengthened safeguards and promoting assurances of supply of nuclear fuel cycle services together with assurances of non-proliferation," he said in his Conference address. "In this regard, the Agency is seeking to promote enhanced controls over sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, in particular uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology."
Mr. Sokolov noted the study issued in February 2005 by an Expert Group on multilateral nuclear approaches (MNA) convened by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. The final report identifies five approaches with the objective of increasing non-proliferation assurances associated with the civilian nuclear fuel cycle while preserving assurances of supply and services. The reportï¿½s results are being presented in Moscow by Mr. Tariq Rauf, an IAEA senior officer in the Office of External Relations and Policy Coordination.
In May 2005, addressing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei emphasized the need for new approaches, saying "We need better control over proliferation sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle: activities that involve uranium enrichment and plutonium separation. As experience has shown, effective control of nuclear materials is the ï¿½choke pointï¿½ to preventing nuclear weapons development. Without question, improving control over facilities capable of producing weapon-usable material will go a long way towards establishing a better margin of security. We should be clear: there is no incompatibility between tightening controls over the nuclear fuel cycle and expanding the use of peaceful nuclear technology. In fact, by reducing the risks of proliferation, we could pave the way for more widespread use of peaceful nuclear applications."
The Moscow conference - which runs 13-15 July - will discuss fuel cycle approaches with a view to possible options for practical implementation. "Clear formulation of MNA proposals... would strengthen confidence between interested participants and could promote the creation of a reliable system of guaranteed nuclear fuel cycle services," Mr. Sokolov said.
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