On June 26, 2013, a meeting of the Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group of the U.S. - Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission took place.
The co-chairs share the view that a considerable amount of work has been done within the four-year period of the group’s existence.
On January 11, 2011, the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy came into force, opening new opportunities for our two countries to work together on a wide range of issues of nuclear energy, scientific cooperation, and nuclear and physical security.
On December 20, 2011, the Administrative Arrangement to the Agreement between the U.S. and Russian Governments for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy was signed and became effective, setting out the mechanisms for accounting, reporting and control of transferred nuclear materials and equipment.
In September 2011, on the margins of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, a Joint Statement by the State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom” and the U.S. Department of Energy on Strategic Directions of U.S.-Russian Nuclear Cooperation was signed, outlining the major areas of cooperation for the near future. This document includes various aspects of technical, scientific, and commercial cooperation, such as development of new types of reactors and joint efforts to strengthen global nuclear security.
The co-chairs are prepared to coordinate the activities of this Working Group with preparation efforts for the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague (March 24-25, 2014).
Nuclear Energy: Commercial Cooperation
The co-chairs note that the Amendment to the Agreement on the Suspension of the Anti-Dumping Investigation, signed in February 2008, created new opportunities to develop nuclear energy in both countries. It is expected that timely and high-quality implementation of those contracts in the coming decade will demonstrate the high level of cooperation between companies of both countries after the last delivery to the United States in late 2013 of low-enriched uranium from downblended Russian weapons highly enriched uranium under the 1993 Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation Concerning the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium Extracted from Nuclear Weapons.
The Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy opened new opportunities for cooperation between companies from Russia and the United States of America in the area of supplying nuclear technologies and services to the U.S. and Russian markets.
Cooperation in the Area of Science and Innovation
The key issue requiring resolution in order to increase our joint scientific and technical research is to finalize the new Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development (R&D Agreement) that will complement provisions of the U.S. - Russian Agreement for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. The new R&D Agreement would offer opportunities for a wide bilateral exchange of expertise on innovative scientific ideas and academic exchanges. The R&D Agreement would also outline procedures for distributing intellectual property rights. The two sides intend to sign the R&D Agreement in September 2013. This would give new impetus to the cooperation of our R&D institutes and national labs.
The co-chairs also note the successful joint work within the Civil Nuclear Energy Working Subgroup.
In October 2012, a bilateral video conference among technical coordinators, technical element leads, and country coordinators was held to review progress, discuss open issues, and plan future collaboration. A non-disclosure agreement among the U.S. Department of Energy, France’s Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), and Rosatom for the MBIR Multi-Purpose Fast Research Reactor project was completed in November 2012, thereby facilitating information exchange and future collaboration. The Working Subgroup’s activities and accomplishments were summarized in an Annual Report, issued in January 2013.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Russian Research Institute of Atomic Reactors was completed in February 2013, enabling studies on the first collaborative irradiations of advanced structural materials in the BOR-60 reactor.
The Working Subgroup’s Annual Meeting was held in April 2013 in Washington, D.C. A report was produced summarizing recent progress and detailed plans for collaboration in the individual technical activities. The sub-group co-chairs decided to hold the fifth annual meeting in May or early June 2014 in Russia.
The co-chairs note the good working relationship between Rosatom State Corporation and the U.S. industry in the development of innovative fast reactor technologies.
The co-chairs welcome collaboration with third countries, such as Armenia, where the U.S. Department of Energy and Rosatom State Corporation are working jointly to enhance the safety of the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant.
HEU Minimization, Plutonium Disposition, Nuclear Security
The co-chairs note that the joint work on reactor conversion feasibility studies included in the Implementing Agreement between Rosatom State Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Conducting Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors, signed on the margins of the Working Group meeting on December 7, 2010, is completed.
Rosatom State Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy have completed feasibility studies for six Russian research reactors. The technical feasibility of the conversion to LEU of all six reactors listed in the Agreement, including ARGUS, OR, IR-8 (NRC “Kurchatov Institute”), IRT-MEPHI (NRNU “MEPHI”), MIR M1 (JCC “SRC RIAR”), IRT at Tomsk (Tomsk Technical University) was confirmed. Efforts are currently focused on the development and certification of a new high-density LEU fuel, necessary for the conversion of IRT-MEPHI, IRT at Tomsk, and IR-8.
The co-chairs recognize that implementation of the agreement made it possible to convert the ARGUS reactor, and note that its conversion is planned to take place in 2014. The co-chairs also note that Russia and the United States should continue cooperating on reactor conversion and examine options for cooperation beyond the initial six reactors.
The co-chairs note that earlier 9 of 27 HEU-fueled research reactors in Russia were shut down. In the United States, 20 of 27 HEU-fueled reactors were either shut down or converted to LEU fuel. The U.S. side plans to continue its efforts to develop a new high-density LEU fuel to convert remaining research reactors in the United States.
The co-chairs hope that the expertise on conversion and advanced LEU fuel development available on both sides could be used for conversion of other research reactors, including those in third countries.
The sides continue implementing the research reactor fuel return program of third country research reactors. As of June 1, 2013, 790 kilograms of fresh nuclear fuel and 1,208 kilograms of spent HEU fuel have been returned to Russia (1,998 kilograms of nuclear fuel, enough to produce about 80 nuclear weapons). Also, 262 kilograms of fresh nuclear fuel and 1292 kilograms of spent HEU fuel were returned to the United States.
The co-chairs note that work has commenced to consolidate fresh and spent HEU fuel from Russian research reactors and support continuation of this work, including conducting pilot projects as part of the larger HEU Minimization Working Subgroup consolidation activities.
The co-chairs confirm that in November 2013, the last shipment of LEU derived from 500 metric tons of downblended Russian weapons HEU is scheduled to be delivered to the United States pursuant to the U.S. – Russia Agreement Concerning the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium Extracted from Nuclear Weapons (HEU Purchase Agreement), signed February 18, 1993. The delivery of this final shipment will be a major contribution towards achieving the goals of the Agreement. The sides note that the HEU Purchase Agreement played an important role in the development of the U.S. – Russian partnership, helped to dispose of a substantial amount of HEU derived from Russian nuclear weapons, and allowed for the establishment and implementation of the necessary transparency measures at sensitive nuclear facilities in both countries.
The co-chairs also noted the expiration in June 2013 of the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States on the Safe and Secure Transportation, Storage and Destruction of Weapons and the Prevention of Weapons Proliferation of June 17, 1992. The co-chairs are pleased to note the signing on June 14, 2013 of a new bilateral legal instrument that provides a basis for longstanding partnership. This new instrument makes it possible for the United States and the Russian Federation to cooperate in several areas, including accounting, control and physical protection of nuclear materials, converting research reactors from HEU to LEU, and other areas of mutual interest.
Russia and the United States remain committed to implementing the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement that came into force in 2011. Under this Agreement, each country is committed to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Consistent with that Agreement, Russia and the United States are continuing their efforts bilaterally, and with the IAEA, to develop a tripartite agreement for IAEA verification of plutonium disposition in the United States and Russia under this Agreement.
Restructuring the Group to Increase its Efficiency
The co-chairs note that the Working Group on Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security remains a flexible tool of coordinating our joint efforts. To improve its efficiency, it was decided to restructure the Working Group. Instead of the former 13 subgroups, 5 clusters were established, including:
- HEU minimization;
- Physical nuclear security;
- Plutonium disposition;
- International systems of safeguards and export control; and
- Nuclear energy.
The co-chairs are confident that the new format will make the Working Group even more effective and will help implement its tasks. They also stress that the agenda of U.S. – Russian cooperation in the area of peaceful uses of nuclear energy is not limited to the above directions, tasks, and targets.
The co-chairs remain interested in cooperating on supporting and strengthening the nonproliferation and nuclear security capacity of third countries, including strengthening IAEA safeguards and national systems of export control, among other areas.
The co-chairs intend to work together on new ideas, concepts, and projects, including those that would involve wide international cooperation.
on Nuclear Energy
27 June 2013
U.S. Department of Energy
27 June 2013