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Thursday, May 08, 2008

U.S. Nuclear Power Agreement With Russia Good and Bad

The U.S. signed an agreement with Russia on May 6 to import, store and reprocess thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel that had been supplied by the U.S. for reactors around the world. The agreement is good because it promotes nuclear fuels reprocessing. It is also good because it will reduce the risk for countries to divert that material to weapons programs. The agreement is bad because it is a poor substitute for America having its own nuclear fuels reprocessing facilities. The agreement is a complement to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

Russia is planning to build a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in eastern Siberia. An agreement with Washington is key to the plant's viability, as the U.S. controls the vast majority of the world's spent fuel through agreements with third countries that it supplies with nuclear material. The agreement does not require congressional approval but could be blocked by majority votes in the House and Senate. The deal must be ratified by Russia's lower house of parliament but there should not be any opposition to the agreement. (The Washington Post)

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