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Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges
diffusion technology to enrich uranium for nuclear power utilities that operate nuclear power plants, including EDF. The Georges Besse 2 plant will replace Georges Besse 1.
At a meeting of the Interstate Council of the Eurasian Economic Community on January 25, 2006, the Russian President Vladimir V. Putin proposed the creation of a network of international nuclear fuel cycle centers to provide “nuclear fuel cycle services, including enrichment, on a non-discriminatory basis and under control of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] IAEA,” (IAEA, 2006).2 To implement this proposal, the International Uranium Enrichment Center (IUEC) was set up on the site of the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Complex (AECC) with the aim of providing “IUEC-participating organizations with guaranteed access to uranium enrichment capabilities,” (IAEA, 2007a). The main principles underlying IUEC development are as follows (Ruchkin and Loginov, 2006):
The center will be a commercial organization and operate as an open, joint-stock company supervised by a joint advisory committee (with IAEA representation).
All countries not pursuing the development of weapon-related sensitive nuclear technologies and meeting all nonproliferation requirements will be eligible for equal, nondiscriminatory IUEC membership.
Russia maintains national control over the material, and export regulations will be developed to guarantee shipment of the material to any participating state at their request, or to other states at the IAEA’s request.
Part of the AECC’s production facilities will be made eligible for voluntary IAEA safeguards.3
Participants will have no access to Russian uranium enrichment technology.
Enriched uranium should meet the requirements of nuclear power stations for nuclear fuel for participant countries.
The political, economic, and technological advantages to IUEC membership should outweigh the drawbacks of refraining from full nuclear fuel cycle development.
On May 10, 2007, the head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Sergey Kirienko, announced that five to seven countries had expressed interest in joining the IUEC. Through the signature of an intergovernmental agreement on that day, Kazakhstan then became the first joint member. Armenia and the Ukraine have expressed interest in joining.4 In the future, international centers could be developed and set up for spent nuclear fuel management (including its long-term storage and reprocessing and further use in innovative fast reactors), innovative reactor and nuclear fuel cycle technology development, or nuclear personnel training (Ruchkin and Loginov, 2006).
Russia is discussing with IAEA a mechanism enabling shipment of material out of Russia at IAEA request, which might contribute to a broader IAEA structured assurance of supply.
In Russian, the word kontrol’, rendered here as “control,” often refers to monitoring rather than actual management of a facility. Russia has not made any proposal that the IAEA should manage the Angarsk enrichment enterprise.
Which part of the facility eligible for safeguards is still being worked out between the AECC and IAEA.