Cablegate: Rep. Rohrabacher Meets with Rosatom's Kiriyenko


DE RUEHMO #1688/01 1651248
P 131248Z JUN 08



E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (SBU) Rosatom Director General Sergey Kiriyenko welcomed
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's strong support for the U.S.-Russia
123 Agreement during a June 3 meeting at Rosatom. Congressman
Rohrabacher highlighted the potential for bilateral collaboration in
the development of a high temperature gas cooled reactor. Kiriyenko
agreed the technology was promising, but added that U.S funding for
joint R and D should not come out of the $400 million the U.S. has
pledged under the Plutonium Disposition Agreement. Kiriyenko noted
that Russia has called on Iran to cease enrichment and offered Iran
ways to guarantee its nuclear fuel supply without enriching.
Kiriyenko expressed concern about a bill drafted by Senator Domenici
which would impose new restrictions on future Russian exports of low
enriched uranium to the U.S. market. End Summary.

U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement

2. (SBU) Rosatom State Corporation Director General Sergey
Kiriyenko received Congressman Rohrabacher and Charge at Rosatom
June 3. Joining Kiriyenko were Rosatom Deputy Director General
Nikolay Spasskiy and three Rosatom Department Directors. Kiriyenko
welcomed Congressman Rohrabacher's expression of strong support for
the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.
Congressman Rohrabacher confirmed that some of his colleagues on
Capitol Hill opposed the Agreement because of Russia's involvement
in Iran's civilian nuclear program. Kiriyenko thanked the
Congressman for his frankness.

Bilateral Civilian Nuclear Cooperation

3. (SBU) Kiriyenko was optimistic about the potential for expanded
U.S.-Russian civilian nuclear and nonproliferation cooperation. He
observed that the best way to combat lingering cold war mindsets on
both sides was to increase cooperation through concrete projects.
He highlighted U.S.-Russian cooperation in bringing about the
shutdown of the plutonium-generating reactor in Seversk. He also
praised the longstanding HEU-LEU program as a major achievement in
advancing nonproliferation goals while supplying a significant
portion of the fuel used by U.S. nuclear power plants.

4. (SBU) The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) offers an
additional avenue for enhanced cooperation, Kiriyenko observed.
GNEP is consistent with Russia's call for International Uranium
Enrichment Centers, such as the one in Angarsk. GNEP and
International Enrichment Centers will help promote the safe use of
nuclear power by developing countries.

High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactors

5. (SBU) Congressman Rohrabacher stressed that the development of
high temperature gas cooled reactors could serve as a foundation for
enhanced bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation. He follows the
development of the technology closely, since General Atomics is
located in Southern California. High temperature gas cooled
reactors would be cleaner and safer and fit the goal of providing
the benefits of nuclear power technology to developing countries
without increasing the proliferation risk. Rohrabacher recounted
how he had met the day before with the Vice President of the
Kurchatov Institute, Nikolay Ponomarev-Stepnoy, who is a strong
proponent of the gas cooled reactor. In Stepnoy's view, this joint
U.S.-Russian program was the only genuine current cooperative civil
nuclear research project.

Gas Cooled Reactors and the Plutonium Disposition Agreement
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (SBU) Kiriyenko agreed that since high temperature gas cooled
reactors could burn plutonium efficiently they had strong
non-proliferation potential. He welcomed Russian cooperation with
General Atomics and favored intensifying it. Kiriyenko observed
that Rosatom's twenty year strategic plan contained funding for
research and development of the high temperature gas reactors.

7. (SBU) Kiriyenko noted that the U.S. and Russia are still engaged
in negotiations on the Plutonium Disposition agreement. Kiriyenko
maintained that when he and Secretary Bodman signed the Joint
Statement on the Agreement in November 2007, Secretary Bodman had
agreed to include research into the gas cooled reactors under the
Agreement's auspices. However, Russia believed that U.S. funding
for R and D into the gas cooled reactors should be in addition to
the $400 million set out for the Plutonium Disposition program. The
U.S. side wanted to take funding out of the $400 million.
(Rohrabacher heard much the same from Kurchatov's Ponomarev-Stepnoy.
If the U.S. did not provide additional funds, Stepnoy warned,
Kiriyenko would continue to support the effort, but not as a joint
project, effectively cutting off the existing flow of R and D

8. (SBU) Congressman Rohrabacher said he would speak with Senator
Lugar and inquire whether CTR funds might be used for purposes of
development of the gas reactor given its effectiveness in burning

Russian-Iranian Civil Nuclear Cooperation

9. (SBU) Charge asked Kiriyenko to describe the state of
Russian-Iranian civil nuclear cooperation. Kiriyenko said Russia's
position is clear: it firmly opposes Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
Russia's analysis of the risk is similar to that outlined in the
U.S. NIE on Iran: Russia has no evidence that Iran has an active
weapons program but can not rule out that such a program exists.
Russian leaders, including Putin, have told Iranian counterparts
that if they seek only civilian nuclear power, then their enrichment
program makes no sense. Enrichment only makes economic sense if it
can supply a base of ten or, preferably, twenty reactors. Iran has
only one reactor -- Bushehr -- and Russia will supply all the fuel
for it and take away all waste. From an economic perspective, the
Iranian enrichment program thus makes no sense for civilian uses.

10. (SBU) The Iranians reply that they are moving forward in the
fuel cycle in order to have an assured fuel supply, Kiriyenko said.
Russia has responded that it is willing to provide Iran with
assurances of supply, as long as Iran remains in good standing with
the IAEA. An international enrichment center, such as the one in
Angarsk operating under IAEA auspices, can institutionalize such
assurances. Russia's provision of fuel to Bushehr demonstrates that
Iran need not fear a cut-off of fuel and that its enrichment program
is entirely unnecessary.

11. (SBU) Kiriyenko said that in his personal opinion, sanctions
against Iran will not stop its enrichment program unless the
sanctions target Iran's oil and gas sector. Only then would Iran
take sanctions seriously. But the costs of such action could be as
detrimental to the West as to Iran. The spike in prices would,
however, not hurt Russia, given its status as an exporter, he

Amendment to the Uranium Anti-Dumping Suspension Agreement
--------------------------------------------- ---------

12. (SBU) Kiriyenko recounted how in February he and Secretary
Gutierrez had signed the amendment to the Uranium Anti-Dumping
Suspension Agreement. The amendment, Kiriyenko said, was important
in providing stability by granting Russia a fixed percentage of the
U.S. market. U.S. utilities were in favor of it. While Russia had
hoped for more than 20 percent of the U.S. market, they had signed
on. With the advent of a bill by Senator Domenici, however, the
Suspension Agreement appears in jeopardy. Senator Domenici's bill
would have the effect of voiding the Suspension Agreement, Kiriyenko
said. The bill would insist that imports of LEU to the U.S. from
Russia could only be from down blended HEU, according to Kiriyenko.
(Note: We understand that the Domenici bill actually permits
400,000 kg/year of Russian LEU imports to the United States
beginning in 2014, but any imports beyond that would be linked to
down blended HEU.) Russia could not meet that condition. Kiriyenko
said he might write a letter to the U.S. Administration laying out
the issue. (Note: On June 5, Kiriyenko did send a letter to Energy
Secretary Bodman highlighting Russian concerns with the Domenici

13. (SBU) Congressman Rohrabacher concluded the meeting by
reiterating his belief in the important role U.S.-Russian
collaboration could play in developing a new generation of safe and
clean nuclear reactors. He underlined that success in that endeavor
would spread the benefits of nuclear power worldwide while reducing
proliferation risk.


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