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Cablegate: Romania: Doe Programs Returning Spent Nuclear Fuel

VZCZCXRO7590
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBM #0595 2101151
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281151Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8526
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000595

ENERGY FOR NNSA

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG ECON RO
SUBJECT: ROMANIA: DOE PROGRAMS RETURNING SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

Sensitive but Unclassified; not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: The National Nuclear Security Administration
(NNSA), together with the DOE National Laboratories, have been
active in Romania as part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative
(GTRI). Currently, NNSA employees and contractors are in Romania
assisting with a spent fuel return shipment of U.S.-origin highly
enriched uranium (HEU), which was in use at a research reactor near
Pitesti. Preparations are also underway to ship Russian-origin HEU
stored at the decommissioned research reactor in Magurele back to
Russia. Romanian authorities have been strong, continuing
supporters of GTRI in particular, as well as for other USG efforts
to control securely radioactive materials, such as the Second Line
of Defense Initiative. End Summary.

2. (SBU) EconOff visited Romania's Nuclear Research Institute in
Mioveni, Pitesti, on July 17 to review preparations for the shipment
of U.S.-origin spent HEU fuel back to the U.S. by the end of July.
NNSA and National Laboratory employees, together with several U.S.
contractors, are currently at the Institute working with the
Romanians to package and ship the fuel. All parties describe the
cooperation between the U.S. and Romanian staffs on this effort as
outstanding. The Director of the Institute, Constantin Paunoiu; the
senior Deputy Director in charge of nuclear safety, Dr. Marin
Ciocanescu; and the Acting President of the Romanian Nuclear
Regulatory Agency (CNCAN), Lucian Biro (PhD) all affirmed the GOR's
strong support for this project.

3. (SBU) The Institute houses two reactors: a 14-megawatt TRIGA
reactor, and a "pulse" reactor, both used for the fabrication and
testing of nuclear materials. The reactors have already been
converted to utilize low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. This fuel is
being imported into Romania from France by a CERCA-General Dynamics
joint venture. The Institute is taking advantage of having the
reactor offline for the removal of the spent fuel rods to conduct
extensive modernization of the facilities, which date from 1979.
This includes the installation of new safety and control systems to
replace the original General Dynamics systems. Once restarted, the
facility will continue to be used both for research and for the
manufacture of nuclear fuel derived from locally mined uranium ore,
for use in Romania's principal nuclear power plant in Cernavoda.

4. (SBU) The next phase of the GTRI will take place next summer,
when a load of Russian-origin HEU will be returned to the Russian
Federation from a decommissioned reactor in Magurele, just outside
of Bucharest. NNSA has already begun the coordination process for
this shipment, with Ken Allen from the Idaho National Laboratory
providing a briefing on June 4th to representatives from all
Romanian Government agencies which will be involved in this planned
fuel transfer. The purpose of the June 4th meeting was to ensure
that all parts of the GOR are on board and to ensure that
bureaucratic obstacles, such as time delays in obtaining the
requisite clearances, not hinder the process. The Prime Minister's
office, which chaired the meeting, conveyed a clear message that all
agencies should work to complete the administrative processes on
time.

5. (SBU) Comment. Post, NNSA, and the National Laboratory are all
pleased with the GOR's supportive posture on this program. Dr. Biro
and the staff at CNCAN have been particularly helpful in resolving
interagency misunderstandings on the part of the Romanian
Government. Broadly speaking, the GOR understands the importance of
securing radioactive materials and supports U.S. initiatives in this
regard. This posture was underlined by the recent agreement on the
part of the GOR to sign an MOU with the U.S. on the "Second Line of
Defense Initiative;" the GOR is requesting that the signing take
place on July 31 (to be reported septel). End Comment.

TAUBMAN

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