Between 1997 and 2000, within the framework of the U.S.-Russian plutonium production reactors Agreement, specialists of R.F. Minatom performed design work on converting three plutonium production uranium-graphite reactors operating at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) and the Mining Chemical Combine (MCC). The reactors supply the towns of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk with heat and electricity as by-products. However, the chosen reactor conversion strategy has proved rather expensive and technically complicated. Eventually, a decision was made to construct heat and power generating plants using organic fuel in both Seversk and Zheleznogorsk. After the commissioning of these plants the obsolete plutonium production reactors will be shut down for good.
In addition to the CTR and related agreements, some other important bilateral accords have been concluded to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Since 1993, the HEU-LEU Agreement providing for dilution during 20 years of 500 tonnes of Russian HEU into LEU and shipping of the latter to the U.S. to fabricate fuel for commercial nuclear reactors has been successfully implemented. As of 2003 more than 190 tonnes of HEU have been diluted and 5,700 tonnes of LEU shipped to the U.S., which secured power generation at U.S. nuclear power plants amounting up to 10% of the annual electricity production in the U.S. (i.e., about 50% of nuclear electricity). In its turn, Russia received about $3.7 billion of revenues to be spent to upgrade the safety level of the nuclear power industry, “convert nuclear cities”, and conduct research and development work on advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cycles.
During 1998 through 2003 an Agreement on cooperation to realize the "Nuclear Cities Initiative" was in force, focused on the creation of new work for the personnel made redundant from nuclear defense programs (the Agreement expires in September 2003).
The resolution of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress initiated by Senators Nunn and Lugar contained a directive to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to assist the former Soviet Union countries in the decommissioning of weapons of mass destruction. As a result, on the 26th of August 1993 the U.S. DOD and the R.F. Committee for Defense Industries signed the SOAE Agreement. Due to changes in the R.F. executive authority structure, the Russian commitments related to the Agreement’s implementation were transferred to Rosaviakosmos. Since dismantlement of nuclear submarines decommissioned from the Russian Navy was implemented by R.F. Minatom, an amendment to the SOAE was signed by both R.F. Rosaviakosmos and the U.S. DOD in 2003. The history of the Russian nuclear submarine decommissioning within the framework of the Nunn-Lugar Program is summarized below (Figure 1).
The decommissioning of nuclear submarines is a large-scale political, engineering and environmental problem involving a multitude of facilities and a large complex of interrelated technologies. Among engineering operations related to the decommissioning, those dealing with SNF unloading, storage, transportation and reprocessing (i.e., directly related to nuclear nonproliferation) are the most sophisticated and important.