Reliable fuel supply will reduce proliferation risks: report

October 2nd, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 2 (IANS) The US and Russia should redouble efforts to ensure a reliable supply of nuclear fuel to nations pursuing civilian nuclear power since it may reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation, says a joint report by the US National Academy of Sciences and Russian Academy of Sciences.The US and Russia, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), should work on cooperative approaches to lease fuel to “newcomer” nations for the lifetime of their reactors, with the spent fuel being sent back, says the report released Wednesday.

According to it, growing energy demands and concerns about climate change are forcing more than two dozen nations to go for nuclear energy but some countries may fear that relying on others for fuel “could make them vulnerable to a cut-off of supplies for political reasons”.

Assuring a reliable fuel supply will lessen the countries’ motives to build their own facilities to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel thereby posing proliferation risks.

The international community, supported by the US and Russia, should continue to explore a broad menu of approaches to provide assurances against political disruptions of the nuclear fuel supply, the report says.

It suggests that Russia, the US, and other nations should work to create a global system of a small number of international centres to handle sensitive steps of the fuel cycle, such as enrichment, reprocessing and storage of spent fuel.

The centres could either be owned by groups of nations or overseen by an international organization but participating nations should not have an enrichment facility and should comply with IAEA safeguards and non-proliferation agreements.

“Nations may feel assured of a stable fuel supply if they are part-owners of the fuel centres or if international mechanisms are in place to provide backup supplies,” the report says.

Besides assuring fuel supplies, the report urges the US and Russia to provide other incentives like agreeing to take back spent fuel, the study says.

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