Some countries have expressed adamant opposition to requiring a country to forgo the development of its own enrichment and reprocessing technologies as a condition of assurance of supply of nuclear fuel or low-enriched uranium.
To be successful, uranium enrichment, fuel assembly production for nuclear power stations, and spent fuel storage/reprocessing technologies continue to operate in the international market.
No single mechanism or strategy for assurance of nuclear fuel supply is likely to address every country’s legitimate needs and desires. Each country’s or region’s needs and requirements may be different.
New mechanisms for assured nuclear fuel supply may only modestly change countries’ incentives to establish enrichment facilities, as the existing international market provides strong assurance of supply, and countries have a variety of other reasons for establishing their own enrichment plants, including a desire to participate in the profits of enrichment, national pride, and a desire to establish a nuclear weapons option for the future.
The governments of the United States and Russia should continue to support a broad menu of approaches to increasing assurance of nuclear fuel supply.
An array of mechanisms for assurance of nuclear fuel supply has been proposed, from diversified long-term contracts through the existing market, enrichment bonds,4 and international fuel centers to creating a virtual or actual fuel bank. Some of these are already in place. The Russian and U.S. governments should support a broad menu of these approaches, ensuring that these do not undermine each other.
The governments of the United States and Russia should seek to establish additional benefits and incentives for countries that choose not to establish their own uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing facilities. Possibilities could include assistance in establishing the necessary infrastructure for safe and secure use of nuclear energy.
To support nonproliferation goals, the nations that currently supply nuclear fuel should work expeditiously with other countries and the IAEA to make assured fuel supplies available before there is a major commitment to new nuclear power plants by countries that do not have them today.
It is feasible to establish a multinational center to provide enrichment services without sharing enrichment technology for countries willing to refrain from developing their own enrichment