ons, removal from service of excess naval vessels and their support systems, and cleaning up of defense waste sites. The latter issue is especially keen in Russia due to its totalitarian past, which resulted in the worst nuclear contamination in the world. One additional common problem is the need to consolidate SNF to protect it against terrorist attacks. To ease this problem the Yucca Mountain repository will begin to operate in 2010. This will not, however, entirely solve the problem, as much more waste has already been accumulated in the United States than can be handled at the repository.
There are substantial differences in the U.S. and Russian approaches to the problem of SNF management. While reprocessing and recycling are not banned in Russia, they are in the United States. The reconciliation of this problem is interim storage, which defers the decision. This leaves the doors open for recycling the SNF in the future, when appropriate technologies are safe and efficient.
In other countries dealing with nuclear energy the situation is even worse than in the United States. The SNF is widely dispersed, and the related risks are high. While Russia is capable of providing valuable services to the nuclear community, dealing with many countries is a difficult and lengthy process. The good news is that 80–90 percent of all SNF in the world is virtually controlled by just one country, the United States. Therefore, U.S.-Russian cooperation is extremely important to the entire world.
The SNF problem is acute now, and what are the prospects for the future? We cannot agree with an earlier presentation in which it was argued that nothing will change substantially in the next 10 years because existing energy infrastructure is based upon fossil fuels. First, nuclear energy fits well into the existing energy infrastructure. Second, the Kyoto Protocol shows that the public wants greenhouse gas reduction, and governments usually do what the public wants. Third, a hydrogen fuel cell engine will be developed in the near future; in fact, development is near completion. There are experimental buses and cars in Vancouver driven by hydrogen. The share of renewable energy is growing tremendously. We expect the growth rate of nuclear energy production to increase dramatically as soon as economic mechanisms enforcing the Kyoto Protocol come into play. Therefore, the SNF problem will be aggravated.
SNF-related problems are broken down here into political, economic, social, and technical issues. Economic problems are briefly considered here along with major political issues.
The amounts of SNF in many countries are not sufficient to make national SNF management economically viable. The costs of qualified human and natural resources are different. Exporting SNF to Russia would enforce economies of scale and scope. The costs of qualified human and natural resources are competitive in Russia.
Global political benefits of SNF management are significant contributions to nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, increased security against terrorist attacks, adherence to the Kyoto Protocol through encouraging nuclear energy pro-