Press Conference with President Vladimir Putin on Russian Proposal to Create International Nuclear Centers (Excerpts)

January 31, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

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SVETLANA TSYGANOVA (Impulse newspaper, city of Zelenogorsk, Karsnoyarsky Region): In the enterprises and cities associated with the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, and I represent one of these cities, there is a great deal of interest in the global initiative that you talked about last week. You said that during the G8 summit of the Russian presidency you shall propose creating international centres that perform certain functions in the nuclear fuel cycle, in particular, enriching uranium for the countries who are not members of the nuclear club.

Please tell us why Russia needs this? What does it mean in practice? And what tasks for the Federal Atomic Energy Agency does this imply?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We all know perfectly well how tense the world energy situation is becoming. Many countries of the world including the Russian Federation, the United States, and Europe are actively studying the possibility of alternative sources of energy: hydrogen, thermal energy, wind energy, biological resources and so on. Now people are saying that it is possible to use certain materials from the moon. Right under our feet we have opportunities in nuclear energy that are not being taken advantage of. And of course many members of the international community are interested in developing nuclear energy for peaceful means. Along with this many issues and problems linked with the proliferation of nuclear weapons arise during the implementation of these plans. Because there are a minimum of two problems which cause concern: they are enriching uranium and working with radioactive fuel. Because both can be used to create fuel for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons themselves. How can we find a solution which will allow us to support those who wish to develop their nuclear energy and at the same time ensure global nuclear security? One of these propositions was made in St Petersburg during the meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community. We suggest creating a network of centres that deal with that part of the nuclear fuel cycle concerning enriching uranium. These centres would be equally accessible to all those who want to participate in developing atomic energy together, there would be no discrimination. This also includes our Iranian partners. You know that the Russian Federation already made this proposal to Iran quite a long time ago. At a meeting in St Petersburg my colleagues, the heads of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, did not rule out participating in this project.

In this way it could be designed from a long-term perspective with the participation of countries that have important reserves of raw uranium. But there need not only be one such centre. The Russian Federation is a natural partner for resolving such tasks, because of the highly developed level of nuclear power in the country, the presence of schools, experts, human resources, and the development of nuclear energy infrastructure. Such centres could be created in other states of the nuclear club and, I repeat, along with ensuring the provision of non-discriminatory access to all those who want to use them.

As to the Russian Federation, I draw your attention to the fact that approximately 16 to 17 percent of the energy we generate is derived from nuclear power. In some countries, including the European Union, in France for example, nuclear energy accounts for almost 80 percent. If in 20 or 30 years we attain 25 percent then this is already quite good. Nuclear energy for peaceful means is now concentrated in the European part of Russia, particularly in the Urals, and we have many northern territories which need additional energy resources. Of course, we must do this in conformity with modern security requirements. There are the so-called fast reactors which in practice are very safe. I have already spoken about this more than once and experts know what to do in this sector. We very much expect effective cooperation from the part of the nuclear club and all those who want to take part in this joint effort.

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