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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 44, March 2000

Latest US-Russia 'Nuclear Cities' Agreement

On March 10, the US Energy Department announced the signing of an agreement with Russia's Ministry for Atomic Energy to begin work "immediately" on a $1.5 million Tank Retrieval and Closure Demonstration Center in Zheleznogorsk intended "to develop and test advanced technologies to remediate high-level nuclear waste in both the United States and Russia." The project forms part of the Department's Nuclear Cities Initiative. According to Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Non-Proliferation: "This is an exciting collaboration offering the potential to reduce future clean-up costs at US and Russian facilities by billions of dollars… In addition this activity puts Russia's top scientists to work in their homeland, helping to prevent brain drain, a major US priority."

The scheme has raised concern among environmentalists. According to Greenpeace, the Zheleznogorsk site is the intended home of no less than 30,000 metric tonnes of spent nuclear fuel which Russia is willing for financial reasons to import from the US, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and other states. According to a Greenpeace press release, this policy is "extremely dangerous and cynical" and "will only add to the enormous environmental problems that already exist in Russia, as well as increasing security risks and nuclear proliferation."

Reports: US-Russian cooperation in closed nuclear city expanded, US DoE Press Release R-00-067, March 10; Russia could become world's nuclear waste repository, ENS, March 13.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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