Nuclear states will always feel a great need for spent nuclear fuel from their nuclear power plants as long as the closed-type nuclear cycle remains a cherished dream. What should be done about the fuel elements once the reactor “burns” them down to the ground? These days scientists can come up with the only answer to the question i.e. spent nuclear fuel should be put in the ground, kept in a special storage facility until a new technology for reprocessing of used nuclear material is available in the future.
No doubt about it, one is better off waiting for better times while spent fuel is dumped thousands miles away. The United States and Russia are quite happy about the above scenario. Both sides seem equally ready and willing to play a sorrowful relative and a gravedigger on duty, respectively.
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. and Russia are about to sign an agreement that would clear the way for Russia to import and store thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel from U.S.-supplied reactors around the world. Administration officials do not comment on the reports. To be honest, no official confirmation is required since Peter Watkins, a high-ranking visitor from the White House, is due to arrive in Moscow soon. Mr. Watkins intends to hold talks with a view to enlarge civilian nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and Russia. However, it is unclear whether the visitor will enlarge cooperation by negotiating terms for storage of additional shipments of spent nuclear fuel or otherwise. Therefore, the reports in The Washington Post should be considered as an authoritative forecast.
Meanwhile, Watkins claims he has lots of projects to discuss, and each of them is programmed to invariably bring benefits to both sides. Moreover, the whole world would benefit from the U.S.-Russia nuclear deal. Incidentally, Watkins is also going to raise some international problems relating to civilian nuclear cooperation during his upcoming trip to Moscow. In the year 2006, one way or another, any subject pertaining to “civilian nuclear cooperation” has been closely tied to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Watkins wasted no time in raising the issue prior to his visit to Russia. He said that the stance of the U.S. administration on Iran’s nuclear program remained the same. He also said that Russia had better show off more active cooperation with the West. At the same time, Russia had better stop any cooperation with Iran for it is likely to result in yet another punitive action by U.S. Congress, which a while ago already made a decision to “limit support for Russia” for “its assistance to Iran’s nuclear program.”
The exact date of Watkins’ visit to Moscow is likely to be announced during the upcoming U.S.-Russia summit in St. Petersburg next Saturday before the annual summit of leaders from the Group of Eight major industrialized nations.
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now