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Deputy Secretary Clay Sell Touts Georgian Efforts to Advance Regional Energy Cooperation and Non-Proliferation

March 16, 2007 - 10:55am

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Visits National Nuclear Waste Repository in Mtskheta, Georgia

TBILISI, Georgia - U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell today visited the National Radioactive Waste Repository in Mtskheta, Georgia, and praised Georgia for issuing a license this week to open the facility to consolidate radioactive sources.  Deputy Secretary Sell also met with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and other senior government and business leaders to address the importance of diversifying energy sources, increasing the use of energy efficient technologies, and further efforts to secure special nuclear materials.

"Under Georgia's new leadership there is vigor and excitement unlike I've ever seen," Deputy Secretary Sell said. "While the country is experiencing promising economic development already, continued work to diversify their energy sources and expanded investments in their energy infrastructure will help them sustain and grow their burgeoning economy.  In addition, security efforts like consolidation of waste sources and increasing protection to keep materials safely consolidated will further national security in Georgia and across the region."

Earlier today, Deputy Secretary Sell and Georgian Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Davit Tkeshelashvili toured the waste repository in Mtskheta that was completed in 2005 with additional security upgrades made in 2006.  Georgia's repository was built through cooperative efforts between the Georgian government and the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Global Threat Reduction program, which contributed $500,000 to this effort.  The license granted this week by the Georgian government will enable consolidation of high-risk radioactive waste sources to secure against theft and misuse.

While in Georgia, Deputy Secretary Sell met with the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Nino Burjanadze and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gela Bezhuashvili, to discuss the importance of regional cooperation and continued economic reform to attract investment and stimulate competition.  Deputy Secretary Sell encouraged Georgia to focus on a sustained path to diversify its energy supply that will utilize a broad range of clean energy technologies and to continue efforts to promote cooperation in nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

Deputy Secretary Sell's trip to Georgia marks the third and final stop of his three-nation visit to advance global energy security and nuclear non-proliferation.  Prior to arriving in Tbilisi Georgia, Deputy Secretary visited senior government officials and business leaders in Moscow, Russia and Kyiv, Ukraine.

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940

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