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Cablegate: Latvia-Russia Sign Agreement to Return Spent Nuclear Fuel

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRA #0932 3551102
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211102Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4611
INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1201

UNCLAS RIGA 000932

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KNNP RS LG
SUBJECT: LATVIA-RUSSIA SIGN AGREEMENT TO RETURN SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL
TO RUSSIA


1. Summary: On December 3, the Republic of Latvia and the Russian
Federation signed an agreement to return remaining spent nuclear
fuel from Latvia's decommissioned Salaspils research facility to
Russia for recycling and storage. The agreement stems from efforts
in Latvia started in the late 1990's by the U.S. Department of
Energy, as part of a wider program to return radioactive materials
from ex-Soviet sites outside of Russia to Russian government
control. End summary.

2. On December 3, The Republic of Latvia and the Russian Federation
signed an agreement to send remaining used nuclear fuel from
Latvia's decommissioned Salaspils nuclear research facility to
Russia. The agreement was signed in Moscow by Environment Minister
Raimonds Vejonis, on behalf of Latvia, and for Russia by Sergei
Kiriyenko, Head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency of Russia.

3. The spent nuclear fuel, currently stored at the former Salaspils
research facility (which was closed in the late nineties and is now
maintained by the Latvian State Hazardous Waste Management Agency),
is planned to be transported to Russia in 2008. The spent nuclear
fuel will be recycled in Russia and all nuclear waste resulting from
recycling will stay in its possession. Latvia will, however, have
to pay for managing the storage of the waste.

4. The return of the fuel is part of the U.S. National Nuclear
Security Administration's (NNSA) Global Threat Reduction Initiative,
and according to reports of the deal, the U.S. Department of Energy
will cover transportation costs for the spent fuel. U.S.-Latvian
collaboration began in 1997, when the U.S. Department of Energy and
the Latvian Nuclear Research Center completed a joint effort aimed
at improving and upgrading the security of nuclear fuel stored at
Salaspils. With the assistance of the International Atomic Energy
Agency and Russian authorities, further Salaspils work continued in
2005, when three kilograms of highly enriched uranium that could be
used for nuclear weapons were returned to Russia.
5. The Latvian Environment Ministry reportedly plans to spend
372,000 lats ($770,000 USD) to cover its share of the 2008
operation. The Salaspils scientific research reactor inherited from
the Soviet Union was shut down in 1998, and the dismantling of the
reactor is planned to be completed by 2010.
SELDOWITZ

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