Russia yesterday indicated it hopes by the end of this year to supply an initial quantity of low-enriched uranium for a nuclear fuel enrichment center to be overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, Nov. 30, 2009).
The fuel bank would enable countries to purchase nuclear power plant fuel on an apolitical basis as an alternative to developing fuel production capabilities that could also generate nuclear-weapon material. The U.N. nuclear watchdog's 35-nation governing board last year backed creation of the facility, which Moscow has proposed to establish at its Angarsk complex in Siberia.
"I believe that the first part of these reserves could be formed by the end of this year," Russian atomic energy chief Sergei Kiriyenko said during a nuclear power conference in Paris (see related GSN story, today). "We want to initially build LEU reserves that would ensure the operation of at least one 1,000-megawatt reactor."
Moscow has indicated the bank would provide nuclear fuel "to any IAEA member country that honors its nonproliferation commitments" (RIA Novosti, March 9).
"If the fuel is of Russian origin, we are ready to propose leasing solutions over the entire lifespan of the nuclear plant," Agence France-Presse quoted Kiriyenko as saying. "We would take the spent nuclear fuel for treatment. ... I think many countries will propose leasing solutions. It's essential to ensure nonproliferation and safety" (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, March 8).
Moscow could sign a comprehensive deal with the U.N. nuclear watchdog on the planned fuel bank in April or May, according to Kiriyenko (RIA Novosti).