Cablegate: Annual Oecd/Nea Multilateral Nuclear Environment Program


DE RUEHMO #1624/01 1581246
R 061246Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: NA


1. (SBU) The annual OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Multilateral
Nuclear Environment Program in Russia (MNEPR) Committee Meeting took
place May 13 in Moscow. Russian officials reviewed the status of
the new Rosatom State Corporation. Participants also reviewed the
Strategic Master Plan for Northwest Russia and the status of MNEPR
projects. Italy accepted the invitation for membership. As
projects in Northwest Russia near completion, the focus of MNEPR may
shift to the Russian Far East. End Summary.

Donors Pre-Meeting

2. (SBU) The annual OECD NEA MNEPR Committee Meeting was held at the
President Hotel in Moscow on 13 May. A donors pre-meeting was held
the evening before at the Swedish Embassy, hosted by the donors'
Co-Chairperson, Anders Nystrom. Donors noted no major problems with
the Russian side; in previous meetings, donors had raised issues
related to access to sites and documents. Julia Schwartz, Head of
NEA Legal Affairs, noted that the MNEPR Secretariat was running out
of funding. Norway had provided most of the funding for the
Secretariat during MNEPR's decade in existence, and the Norwegians
had recently notified the Secretariat that they were no longer in
the position of being able to do so. MNEPR members were asked to
respond; and Russia would also be requested to donate during the
Committee Meeting.

3. (SBU) The tenth annual MNEPR Committee meeting opened with the
election of the Co-Chairpersons for the coming year. Elected was
Nystrom of Sweden for the donors and Evgeniy Evstratov, Rosatom
Deputy General Director, for the Russian side.

Status of Rosatom State Corporation

4. (SBU) Evstratov provided a status report on the reorganization of
Rosatom, the former Russian Atomic Energy Agency which is being
transformed into Rosatom State Corporation. A Presidential Decree
had established Rosatom State Corporation, but the Agency Rosatom
will not entirely stand down until the end of 2008. Former head of
Agency Rosatom Kiriyenko had moved over to Rosatom State
Corporation, as had many of the senior leadership. The remainder of
the organization would move over through the coming year, although
not all Rosatom employees would be guaranteed a position in the new
State Corporation.

5. (SBU) The legal status of the new State Corporation is still
evolving, according to Evstratov. President Putin had signed a law
in December 2007 converting Rosatom from a federal agency to a State
corporation, but there is still considerable work to be
accomplished in the restructuring. In particular, the EU
representative and legal counsel were concerned regarding the
transition, as they were expecting to finalize three assistance
agreements in the near future.

International Agreements

6. (SBU) Evstratov noted that the Russian Government was conducting
a review of all international agreements before the diplomatic notes
regarding Rosatom civil international agreements could be issued by
the MFA. He stated that it was expected that all international
civil nuclear agreements now in place with the Agency Rosatom would
remain in place with Rosatom State Corporation. He provided further
details on the reorganization - not only would Rosatom State
Corporation take over the duties of the federal agency, but it would
also take over the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet. He offered
that the new entity would be composed of three main categories:
nuclear fuel cycle and electricity generation; the nuclear weapons
complex; and nuclear radiation safety.

7. (SBU) Evstratov stated that the Russian nuclear regulatory
agency, Rostechnadzor, would remain separate from the new Rosatom
State Corporation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have the
same responsibilities in regard to the MNEPR Agreement as it did in
the past.

Relations among Nuclear Risk Programs in Russia
--------------------------------------------- --

8. (SBU) Simon Evans, the UK Representative, provided an analysis
of the relationship among nuclear risk programs in the Russian

Federation. He characterized the G8 Global Partnership as being the
"political framework" for nuclear safety, security and
non-proliferation. MNEPR is the "legal framework" and while it
applies to nuclear safety, it could be expanded to security. It
sets a sound standard, and is limited to the Russian Federation.
The IAEA Contact Expert Group (CEG) was characterized as being the
"technical framework" that promotes co-operation in Northwest Russia
and the Far East regions. The CEG facilitates co-operation and
helps avoid duplication of tasks. He noted that the role in
Northwest Russia was becoming "mature" and that the CEG was not
limited to that region but to the entire Russian Federation. The G8
Global Partnership, MNEPR and the CEG are interrelated to some
degree and share similar goals.

Nuclear Submarine Decommissioning

9. (SBU) Ashot Sarkisov (Russian Institute for Nuclear Energy
Safety) provided a review of the "Strategic Master Plan (SMP) for
Decommissioning the Retired Russian Nuclear Submarine Fleet and
Environmental Rehabilitation of its Supporting Infrastructure in
Northwest Russia." This is the guideline, funded by the EBRD, for
the Russian Federation to follow in decommissioning its submarines
and reducing the radiation hazard posed by the retired facilities
and waste. The SMP development was a step toward the implementation
of the Global Partnership Program approved at the Kananaskis Summit
in 2002. He indicated that a similar, but different SMP would be
required for the Far East. (Note: At a CEG Meeting in June 2007 in
Vladivostok, Sarkisov and other Russian officials had opined that
the Northwest Russia SMP would be employed as a basis for a SMP for
the Far East. It now appears that the Russians will develop an
entirely separate SMP for the Far East.)


10. (SBU) The MNEPR Secretariat reviewed the status of potential
membership. Italy and Canada had been invited to join as full
members and Australia, Japan and South Korea had been invited to
observer status. Italy had accepted the invitation, and a member of
the Italian Embassy in Moscow attended the meeting. Canada had
declined to join, citing its present extensive bilateral agreements
in the field with Russia. Nothing had yet been heard from
Australia, though it was noted that its CEG assistance to Russia has
been provided through Japan. South Korea also had yet to respond
and Japan had declined, also citing its own mechanisms. However, it
was revealed during the meeting that Japan had indicated through
channels that it would become a member of the CEG (it had been an
observer until this point).

Shift to Russian Far East

11. (U) A tour de table on assistance projects revealed that the UK,
France, Germany, Norway and the EU still had ongoing projects in
Northwest Russia. The Netherlands, Italy, Denmark had no further
ongoing projects and Sweden had a few small projects related to
nuclear waste. Alain Mathiot, the CEG Representative noted that by
the 2010/2012 period, CEG-sponsored projects in Northwest Russia
would be completed. This would lead to a renewed focus on the
Russian Far East; he also emphasized that there was no geographical
limit within Russia for CEG projects. For both MNEPR and the CEG,
it appeared that projects for Northwest Russia were gradually
winding down to completion, with relatively fewer new start-ups, and
that the focus of international co-operation in the area of spent
nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management would be shifting to
the Russian Far East.

12. (U) The United States noted the pending (21 May 2008) deposit of
its instrument of ratification to the Convention on Supplementary
Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). While the U.S. has not been
able to sign the MNEPR Protocol on Claims, Legal Proceedings and
Indemnification, the ratification of the CSC was a significant step
regarding liability. Russia was encouraged to follow the U.S. in
ratifying the CSC.

13. (U) The meeting adjourned with the note that the next MNEPR
Committee Meeting would be held in Paris during the April/May


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