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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 43, January - February 2000

New US Agreements to Secure Nuclear Materials & Expertise in Russia and Kazakhstan

December saw two important developments in the US Energy Department's (DoE) ongoing efforts to help secure both nuclear materials and expertise in

On December 19, Energy Secretary Richardson signed an Implementing Agreement with Kazakhstan to facilitate the closure and decommissioning of, in the words of a Department press release, the "plutonium-producing BN-350 nuclear reactor in Aktau, Western Kazakhstan, located near the Iranian border." The press release continues: "A major concern is the security and disposition of weapons-usable plutonium in spent fuel stored at the reactor site. DoE has nearly completed a project to reduce the vulnerability of this material by securing it in the reactor's spent fuel pools. The next phase of the project calls for the removal of the material for long-term storage."

On December 23, an agreement was signed between the DoE and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to facilitate the dispersal of $1.5 million of Department funds allocated to its 'Nuclear Cities Initiative'; specifically, for projects in the formerly closed 'nuclear cities' of Sarov, Snezhinsk and Zhelezhnogorsk. According to a DoE statement: "This cooperation will allow small businesses employing former nuclear weapons scientists, engineers and technicians access to the EBRD pool of $300 million available to Russia."

Reports: US, Kazakhstan agree to decommission, secure Kazakhstani nuclear reactor near Iranian border, US Energy Department Press Release R-99-336, December 21; Energy Department, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development establish small business loan program for Russian nuclear cities, US Energy Department Press Release R-99-341, December 23.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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