April 1, 2006｜Russia & Mongolia
Research Fellow, The Tokyo Foundation
This year’s G8 summit will take place in July in St. Petersburg, the old capital of Russia. Russia, which currently holds the presidency of G8, has taken its forte of energy issues as the main theme, and intends actively to publicize its presence to the international community.
When we talk about energy in Russia, there is a tendency to think about oil and natural gas, but the country is also a world leader in the field of nuclear power. Against the background of soaring energy prices over the last few years, global interest in nuclear power has been increasing once more, and it is likely that the nuclear power issue will be one focus of the G8 summit in July.
What kind of proposals will President Putin’s Russia, which holds the presidency, make with regard to the nuclear power issue? With regard to this, we should pay attention to the following remarks that President Putin himself made at the Eurasian Economic Community summit, which was held in St. Petersburg on 25th January this year.
“We view security as a multifaceted concept. This requires a well-thought-out composite approach. Based on this kind of standpoint, Russia is closely involved in cooperation relating to global energy security, within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community. One of the priorities in this area is developing cooperation relating to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Cooperation in this field could well open the door to concrete new opportunities for all of us. Based on an agreement with the President of Kazakhstan, a concrete plan for expanding cooperation between Russian and Kazakh companies involved with nuclear energy is being drawn up.
Uzbekistan’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Community is giving rise to further new opportunities to establish a nuclear fuel sector that would be likely to make a contribution as a reliable element in long-term energy supply policy.
Today, as demand for a supply of good-quality energy is constantly increasing, developing our countries’ potential in this field to the maximum extent possible is particularly important. The gradually dwindling reserves of fossil fuels and environmental problems are exceedingly important international issues.
It is necessary for us to create a model for global infrastructure that provides all the countries concerned with equal rights of access. Naturally, at the same time, we strongly assert that this will comply absolutely with the requirements of the nonproliferation regime.
Establishing a number of international centers under the control of the IAEA that provide nuclear fuel cycle services, including enrichment services, that would be available to all countries without discrimination, could become a factor that could hold the key to the development of this new infrastructure.
Russia is already implementing precisely this kind of proposal and we are prepared to set up one such international center within our own country.
With regard to this point, there can be no doubt that innovative new technology is required in order to establish a new generation of nuclear reactors and fuel cycles for them.
Such problems can only be resolved through wide-ranging international cooperation. This is precisely the approach that we will propose to the other participants in the G8 summit, the presidency of which is held by Russia, and all our partners in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
The strategic significance of this “international nuclear fuel center concept” must not be underestimated. It is necessary swiftly to analyze the real aims behind this proposal by Putin’s Russia.
[Translated by ERINA]