Representatives from Russia, the United States, France, and other countries are meeting at a Moscow conference this week to examine multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle from organizational and technical aspects. The conference is organized by the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) with cooperation by the IAEA, and follows an Expert Group´s report on the issue earlier this year.
In opening the meeting, Mr. Yuri Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy, cited the security-related challenges facing the development of nuclear power and its fuel cycle, even as more countries show interest in applying the technology safely for electricity production.
"The IAEA is addressing the challenges through implementing strengthened safeguards and promoting assurances of supply of nuclear fuel cycle services together with assurances of non-proliferation," he said in his Conference address. "In this regard, the Agency is seeking to promote enhanced controls over sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, in particular uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology."
Mr. Sokolov noted the study issued in February 2005 by an Expert Group on multilateral nuclear approaches (MNA) convened by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. The final report identifies five approaches with the objective of increasing non-proliferation assurances associated with the civilian nuclear fuel cycle while preserving assurances of supply and services. The report´s results are being presented in Moscow by Mr. Tariq Rauf, an IAEA senior officer in the Office of External Relations and Policy Coordination.
In May 2005, addressing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei emphasized the need for new approaches, saying "We need better control over proliferation sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle: activities that involve uranium enrichment and plutonium separation. As experience has shown, effective control of nuclear materials is the ´choke point´ to preventing nuclear weapons development. Without question, improving control over facilities capable of producing weapon-usable material will go a long way towards establishing a better margin of security. We should be clear: there is no incompatibility between tightening controls over the nuclear fuel cycle and expanding the use of peaceful nuclear technology. In fact, by reducing the risks of proliferation, we could pave the way for more widespread use of peaceful nuclear applications."
The Moscow conference - which runs 13-15 July - will discuss fuel cycle approaches with a view to possible options for practical implementation. "Clear formulation of MNA proposals... would strengthen confidence between interested participants and could promote the creation of a reliable system of guaranteed nuclear fuel cycle services," Mr. Sokolov said.