Interfax: Russia’s Rosatom ready to continue nuclear safety cooperation with US
(Interfax – Moscow, January 22, 2015) Russia and the United States will continue cooperation in global nuclear safety in 2015.
According to a press release by the state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, the sides have special responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of nuclear materials, preventing them from falling into the hands of terrorist organizations and ensuring their reliable physical protection.
In particular, Russia has returned fresh and irradiated fuel from research reactors with a high level of enrichment of the isotope U-235 from 14 countries, thereby eliminating the risk of its unauthorized use, including potential terrorist threat. In total, since 2002, 2,136,000 kg of highly enriched nuclear fuel has been returned to Russia, which would have been enough to produce about 85 nuclear warheads. “This cooperation will continue: Russia plans to return highly enriched fresh and irradiated fuel from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Poland,” the press release reads.
Rosatom also notes that today Russia is the only country that has diluted 500 metric tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to a low level (LEU). This programme has significantly reduced the amount of weapons-grade material on the global scale, it would have been sufficient for the production of 20,000 nuclear warheads.
These partnership programmes were supervised by the working group on nuclear energy and nuclear safety under the Russian-American Presidential Commission. However, in March 2014 the American side suspended its participation in this mechanism, therefore the signed contracts are being implemented but the working groups no longer meet and no new contracts are being signed. Also, at the initiative of the American side, in May 2014 the preparation of a work plan between US national laboratories and Russian nuclear energy enterprises under the intergovernmental agreement on scientific and technical cooperation, signed in September 2013 in Vienna, was suspended.
“We firmly believe that the use of nuclear energy is a strategic matter that has very long life cycles. It cannot and should not depend on situational changes in the political environment. We will be ready to resume cooperation when the American side is ready, of course strictly on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect,” the press release reads.
In late 2013, the Russian-American programme for returning Russian-produced highly enriched nuclear fuel from third countries was extended until 2024. Previously Rosatom planned to complete the programme for returning spent nuclear fuel in 2016.
Earlier, the American daily The Boston Globe reported that Russia was suspending cooperation with the United States in the field of safety of nuclear arsenals.