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Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle and other proposals Tariq Rauf Head, Verification and Security Policy Coordination (Scientific Secretary of the Expert Group on Multilateral Nuclear Approaches (MNA) and of the 50 th IAEA General Conference (Special Event):
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Head, Verification and Security Policy Coordination
(Scientific Secretary of the Expert Group on Multilateral Nuclear Approaches (MNA) and of the 50th IAEA General Conference (Special Event):
New Framework for the Utilization of Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century: Assurance of Supply and Non-Proliferation)
Vienna, 6 February 2007
Initiatives on multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle are not new:
In identifying and providing an analysis of issues and options, the MNA Group focused on activities and facilities involving significant proliferation risks:
The MNA Group adopted a template to analyse each of the technologies - uranium enrichment, fuel reprocessing, spent fuel disposal, and storage:
Type I: Assurances of services not involving ownership of facilities:
a)Suppliers provide additional assurances of supply
b)International consortium of governments
Type II: Conversion of existing national facilities to multinational
Type III: Construction of new joint facilities
MNA options span the whole spectrum between existing market mechanisms (of private ownership) and intergovernmental-ownership
Two primary factors dominate all assessments of multilateral nuclear approaches:
1. Reinforcing existing commercial market mechanismson a case-by-case basis through long-term contracts and transparent suppliers’ arrangements with government backing. Examples would be: fuel leasing and fuel take-back offers, commercial offers to store and dispose of spent fuel, as well as commercial fuel banks.
2. Developing and implementing international supply guaranteeswith IAEA participation. Different models should be investigated, notably with the IAEA as guarantorof service supplies, e.g. as administrator of a fuel bank.
3. Promoting voluntary conversion ofexisting facilities to MNAs, and pursuing them as confidence-building measures, with the participation of NPT non-nuclear-weapon States and nuclear-weapon States, and non-NPT States.
4. Creating, through voluntary agreements and contracts, multinational, and in particular regional, MNAs for new facilitiesbased on joint ownership, drawing rights or co-management for front-end and back-end nuclear facilities, such as uranium enrichment; fuel reprocessing; disposal and storage of spent fuel (and combinations thereof). Integrated nuclear power parks would also serve this objective.
5. The scenario of a further expansion of nuclear energy around the world might call for the development of a nuclear fuel cycle with stronger multilateral arrangements– by region or by continent - and for broader cooperation, involving the IAEA and the international community.
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg (for EU), Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Korea (RoK), Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA
– some 45 States made supportive comments on MNAs in one form or another
In January 2006, Russia's President Vladimir Putin proposed the creation of a system of international nuclear fuel cycle centres (INFCC) under a "Global Nuclear Power Infrastructure (GNPI)" to provide nuclear fuel cycle services, including uranium enrichment, on a non-discriminatory basis and under the supervision of the IAEA – (IUEC Angarsk – International Uranium Enrichment Centre, January 2007)
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) proposed by the US to develop advanced nuclear power technologies and a fuel services programme to supply developing nations with reliable access to nuclear fuel in exchange for a commitment to forego the development of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies
The four commercial uranium enrichment companies – AREVA, TENEX, URENCO and USEC – through the World Nuclear Association tabled a report in May 2006, “Ensuring Security of Supply of the International Fuel Cycle” representing the position of a 28-member panel of nuclear industry experts, for an industry-based backup supply mechanism
In June 2006, six countries with commercial uranium enrichment activities – France, Germany, Netherlands, Russian Federation, UK and US - under a US initiative, tabled a proposal to offer ‘reliable access’ to nuclear fuel to States opting to rely on the international market for nuclear fuel and not to have domestic enrichment activities
In September 2006, Japan proposed to establish a system called the "IAEA Standby Arrangements System for the Assurance of Nuclear Fuel Supply" under IAEA auspices, that incorporates both an information system to contribute to the prevention of the occurrence of market failure and the back-up feature for supply assurance proposed in the six-country proposal for reliable access
In September 2006, the United Kingdom, in the context of the supply assurance envisaged in the six-country scheme, proposed an “Enrichment Bond” – this would enable prior consent or ‘de-flagging’ for provision of enrichment services for qualifying recipient States – Germany and Netherlands have associated themselves with this initiative
Also in September 2006, the Nuclear Threat Initiative – a US NGO - proposed to set up a stockpile of low-enriched uranium, under the Agency's auspices, to serve as a last-resort fuel reserve for countries that have elected not to build a national uranium enrichment programme: NTI offered a challenge grant of US$ 50M to be matched by US$ 100M to be raised by IAEA / Member States (in funds or nuclear material)
Furthermore, in September 2006, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
(FR Germany) proposed the creation of an international uranium enrichment facility - operated by the IAEA - at an extraterritorial (international) site (estimated operational date ± 10 years)
… recent proposals for assuring supplies of uranium-based nuclear fuel can be seen as one stage in a broader, longer-term development of a multilateral framework that could encompass assurance of supply mechanisms for both natural and low enriched uranium and nuclear fuel, as well as spent fuel management
… establishing a fully-developed, multilateral framework that is equitable and accessible to all users of nuclear energy, acting in accordance with agreed nuclear non-proliferation norms, will be a complex endeavour that would likely require a progressively phased approach
- dual-objective, i.e. to address: (a) the possible consequences of interruptions of supply of nuclear fuel due to political considerations that might dissuade countries from initiating or expanding nuclear power programmes; and (b) the vulnerabilities that create incentives for building new national enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. Thus, an assurance of supply mechanism would be envisaged solely as a back-up measure to the operation of the commercial market, for those States that want to make use of it, in order to assure supply in instances of interruption for political reasons.
- supplies of natural uranium and low enriched uranium stocks, and still others focused on assurances of the supply of nuclear fuel itself, through the establishment of a series of interlocking arrangements among major suppliers; and a reserve of low enriched uranium
- possible modalities could include: a virtual reserve of natural and low enriched uranium, based on binding contractual agreements for the supply of such material, plus parallel binding commitments/assurances of fuel fabrication services
... while an actual (physical) bank of natural or low enriched uranium could be established, it would be impractical for technical and economic reasons to have an actual bank of nuclear fuel assemblies, given the different types of reactor designs and the many variants of nuclear fuel required for them – in this case, the physical bank of nuclear material would need to be supplemented by parallel binding commitments/assurances of fuel fabrication services
- in accordance with the IAEA Statute, an Agency-administered assurance mechanism would have to be available to all Member States in a non-discriminatory manner
- certain release criteria would need to be defined and agreed upon, either by the IAEA Board of Governors or the supply consortium
- the application of the release mechanism would need to be demonstrably non-political and based on objective criteria
E & R technology transfer restraint
New Framework and Assurance of Supply Mechanisms
At the November 2006 Board, the DG stated:
“A Special Event was held during the General Conference on a new framework for the utilization of nuclear energy, to facilitate discussion of recent proposals on mechanisms for the assurance of supply of nuclear fuel. As I have said before, the assurance of supply of nuclear fuel, to be acceptable to States, should be formulated in a manner that is equitable and accessible to all users of nuclear energy. The Secretariat is now studying issues related to the modalities and criteria for possible assurance mechanisms. The Secretariat hopes to bring for consideration by the Board a report on "options" for assurances of supply by the middle of next year.”