Russia, U.S. to sign cooperation agreement

The head of the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy, Alexander Rumyantsev, and the U.S. Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham will sign an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the use of spent nuclear fuel today, said the agency.

"This will be an agreement on cooperation in the sphere of return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel from Russian-made research reactors. Its realization is aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the threat of international terrorism due to reduction of the number of areas where nuclear materials that can be used to produce nuclear weapons are stockpiled," said a nuclear energy agency representative.

He added that the agreement will be signed during the meeting between Rumyantsev and Abraham on May 27. U.S. Ambassador in Russia Alexander Vershbow will take part in the meeting.

According to the source, during the meeting some issues of bilateral cooperation in the field of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and conducting scientific research in the sphere of nuclear energy will be discussed.

The memorandum on cooperation in the field of return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel from Russian-made research reactors was signed by Rumyantsev and Abraham on November 7, 2003 in Washington. It was also announced then that the sides have started work to prepare a relevant agreement.

The spent nuclear fuel problem, experts believe, has advanced to the foreground in Russo-Iranian nuclear cooperation (Russian specialists have been completing the construction of the first unit of the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr - a town in the northern part of the Persian Gulf's Iranian coast). Because this problem was unresolved, the construction was delayed and the Iranian side's discontent grew. Tehran already gave its principled agreement to return spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr to Russia, and during the coming visit to Iran by Alexander Rumyantsev (it was planned in February but was postponed due to parliamentary elections in Iran), a relevant protocol will be signed.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team