Russia to Sign Agreement with US on Reactor Closure

Russia's nuclear power minister, Alexander Rumyantsev, will sign an agreement with US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in Vienna on March 11th on the mothballing of three Russian reactors that are capable of processing weapons-grade plutonium. When answering journalists' questions in the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian parliament) on Wednesday, Rumyantsev said that the reactors currently produce electricity in the "closed towns" of Zheleznogorsk and Seversk.

The minister explained that in line with the agreement, the USA would be obliged to provide "covering capacities." Rumyantsev declined to clarify the details of the deal, but pointed out that the matter concerned hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to him, these reactors cannot simply be closed, as they produce heat and electricity. At the same time, he said "the Cold War has ended and we do not need plutonium weapons. Existing arsenals are more than enough [to act] as a deterrent." Rumyantsev also reminded those present about the agreement from 2000 signed with the USA on the scrapping of 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium that is already surplus to defence needs.