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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, IAEA to sign deal on international nuclear fuel reserve bank

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's state-run nuclear power corporation Rosatom and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will sign next week an agreement on the creation of an international nuclear fuel reserve bank, a Russian respected business daily said on Friday.

Russia earlier proposed establishing international reserves of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to ensure stable fuel supplies to IAEA member countries in case of an emergency, including "insurmountable political difficulties."

IAEA representative Dana Sacchetti told Vedomosti that the agreement on the creation of the nuclear fuel reserve bank in the East Siberian city of Angarsk - one of the largest Russian uranium enrichment complexes - is due to be signed in Vienna on Monday by Rosatom's head Sergei Kiriyenko and the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

While he did not specify the volume of the investment in the project, he said that the expenses would be covered by the Russian government.

Russia proposed in 2007 the creation of a nuclear center with LEU reserves in Angarsk, 5,100 km (3,170 miles) east of Moscow, to enable countries to develop civilian nuclear power without having to enrich their own uranium. The IAEA Board of Governors approved the establishment of a nuclear fuel reserve bank in November 2009.

Russia will recompense its expenses only if one of the IAEA members has problems with fuel supplies due to unforeseen circumstances.

The bank will support countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE, which do not want to create their own nuclear fuel cycle, but want to build nuclear power stations and to be guaranteed a fuel supply.

Russia has pledged to give access to the reserves "to any IAEA member country that honors its non-proliferation commitments."

Iran may be also included in this list if it gives up its plans for enriching uranium or puts it under the full control of the IAEA.

However, the bank will not extend to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southwestern Iran, which is already under IAEA guarantees. Russian fuel has also already been supplied to Bushehr, whose first reactor should be launched this summer.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 for the completion of the plant.

Russia's state-run nuclear power corporation Rosatom said also this month that Russia would provide by the end of 2010 the first batch of low-enriched uranium for an international nuclear fuel reserve bank under the control of the UN nuclear watchdog.

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