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Cablegate: Request for Embassy Warsaw Participation in A

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #3002 0432324
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 122320Z FEB 10
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0000
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0000
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0000
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 0000

UNCLAS STATE 013002

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TRGY TBIO PL
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR EMBASSY WARSAW PARTICIPATION IN A
POLISH ATOMIC ENERGY AUTHORITY-COVIDIEN EVENT ANNOUNCING
MO-99 PRODUCTION

REF: A. STATE 113758

Sensitive but Unclassified - please protect accordingly.

1. (U) This is an action request for Embassy Warsaw. See
paragraph 7.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

2. (U) The United States imports all of its Mo-99 (a key
medical isotope) from foreign suppliers, but there is
currently a worldwide shortage due to various nuclear
research-reactor shutdowns. Various international
organizations are now actively focusing on this issue,
including the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and
Development's Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA) in Paris and
the IAEA. As part of their efforts to assist in meeting
global demand, the Polish Atomic Energy Authority and
Covidien are planning to announce an agreement to produce
Mo-99 using the Polish reactor MARIA, in an event taking
place on February 17, 2010 in Warsaw. The event planners are
interested in having the participation and a few remarks from
the U.S. Ambassador to Poland or the Deputy Chief of Mission
(DCM). Washington supports the U.S. Embassy participation at
the highest level Embassy deems appropriate and feasible.

END SUMMARY.

----------
Background
----------

3. (U) Technetium-99 metastable (Tc-99m) is a crucial
radioisotope produced from the decay of the medical isotope
molybdenum-99 (Mo-99). It is used in about 100,000 nuclear
diagnostic procedures daily around the globe, including heart
disease and cancer diagnosis, and studies of organ structure
and function. Global supply of Mo-99 is generated primarily
from the irradiation of enriched-uranium targets in five
research reactors around the world. The two largest of those
reactors, the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in
Canada and the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in The Netherlands,
have experienced technical difficulties over the past two
years, including a heavy water leak in the main containment
vessel of the NRU which has required the shutdown of the
facility until at least the first quarter of 2010. The HFR
will be experiencing a 25-week maintenance shutdown beginning
in February 2010.

4. (U) These problems have resulted in severe global Mo-99
supply shortages with serious consequences for the medical
community. OECD/NEA, with U.S. support from DOE/NNSA's GTRI
program and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
is now engaging with supplier states and others to address
this issue, including the OECD/NEA's High Level Group on the
Security and Supply of Medical Radioisotopes (HLG-MR). In
addition to these international coordinating efforts, the USG
wishes to encourage the adoption of certain mitigating
measures, especially in CY 2010. A nonpaper summarizing the
problem and the USG's views is included in paragraph 9 for
Post reference.

5. (SBU) In an effort to facilitate the implementation of
alternative measures to alleviate the shortage of Mo-99, the
President's Science Advisor wrote to the Minister of the
German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature
Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (REF A). The letter
requested Germany,s assistance to secure the regulatory
approval for the transit through Germany of Mo-99 production
targets irradiated at the MARIA reactor in Poland. The
irradiated targets would be transported to processing
facilities in The Netherlands to extract Mo-99. The text of
the letter is included in paragraph 10 for Post's
informational purposes only.

6. (SBU) The agreement between the Polish Atomic Energy
Authority and Covidien to produce Mo-99 from the Polish
reactor MARIA has been concluded. MARIA will produce an
estimated 900 6-day Curies of Mo-99 per week. With the
approval of the Polish Atomic Energy Authority, an event is
being planned to announce the agreement on February 17, 2010
at 2:30 pm, at the Polish Press Agency Press Center in Warsaw
(6/8 Bracka Street 00-502). Speakers at the event will
include the Covidien European President, Vice President and
other senior officials, senior representatives from the MARIA
reactor, the Deputy Minister of Health, and Deputy Minister
of Economy. The planners of this activity expressed their
interest in inviting the U.S. Ambassador to Poland or the DCM
to participate. The announcement will be preceded by a
luncheon to begin at 12:30 pm at the London Room of the
Warsaw Sheraton Hotel (UI. B. Prusa 2, 00-493), to which the
Embassy representative is also invited. Washington supports
the presence of the U.S. Embassy at this event, at the
highest level Post deems appropriate and feasible. The
contributions that the MARIA reactor will make to the global
community will result in an average of tens of thousands of
medical-isotope procedures per week that otherwise would not
be available.

END BACKGROUND

---------------
ACTION REQUESTS
---------------

7. (SBU) Post is requested to participate in the announcement
event at the highest appropriate level, to inform the POCs in
paragraph 11 by February 16 whether and at what level it
intends to participate, and to provide a brief post-event
reporting cable. Talking points for the event are included in
paragraph 8.

--------------
TALKING POINTS
--------------

8. (SBU) BEGIN OF TALKING POINTS

-- The United States is concerned about the global shortage
of Mo-99 and its implications for the health care of millions
of patients around the world.

-- The United States is currently dependent on the
international community for its supply of Mo-99.

-- The United States would like to work with partner
countries to facilitate the implementation of alternative
measures to alleviate the shortage of Mo-99, and ensure
continuous supply of this critical medical isotope.

-- The United States also supports international efforts such
as those being undertaken by the Organisation of Economic
Co-operation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency
(OECD-NEA) and its High Level Working Group on the Security
of Supply of Medical Radioisotopes (HLG-MR).

-- In that regard, we also support and welcome the planned
production of irradiated targets at the MARIA reactor, and
their subsequent processing in The Netherlands to extract
Mo-99 for delivery to the international community.

-- We commend Poland for their initiatives on behalf of the
stability of Mo-99 supply, and for the completion and signing
of this agreement between the Polish Atomic Energy Authority
and Covidien to produce Mo-99 from MARIA.

-- This initiative illustrates the importance and value of
close cooperation between relevant stakeholders, including
government and industry, in achieving the goals of sustained,
adequate supply of medical isotopes.

-- We also want to thank the German government for efforts
aimed at facilitating the transit of the Mo-99 targets from
Poland to The Netherlands.

-- The agreement announced today allows contributions from
the MARIA reactor to the global community that will result in
an average of tens of thousands of medical-isotope procedures
per week that otherwise would not be available.

-- The United States stands in strong support of all
international efforts to maintain a stable Mo-99 supply for
the benefit of the global medical community.

-- As we are all aware, there is a delicate balance between
the objectives of (1) reducing the use of highly enriched
uranium in research reactors and isotope production
facilities and (2) maintaining a reliable supply of medical
isotopes for the medical community.

-- In this light, the United States also praises Poland and
the MARIA reactor management for their ongoing efforts, in
cooperation with the Global Threat Reduction Initiative of
the U.S. Department of Energy, the International Atomic
Energy Agency, and others in working toward conversion of the
reactor from highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium
fuel as soon feasible.

END OF TALKING POINTS

--------
NONPAPER
--------

9. (U) BEGIN TEXT OF NONPAPER (FOR REFERENCE ONLY)

CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING EXPECTED SHORTAGES OF MOLYBDENUM-99
IN 2010

The decay product technetium-99 metastable ("Tc-99m") of the
medical isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) is a crucial
radioisotope used in 80,000 nuclear diagnostic medical
procedures performed around the globe every day. Its primary
uses include diagnosing heart disease, studying organ
structure and function, and as a diagnostic in cancer
treatment. Tc-99m's very short half-life (6 hours) and
excellent binding properties make it uniquely suited for a
large variety of medical procedures. However, the half-life
of parent isotope, Mo-99, is also short (66 hours), making it
impossible to stockpile and requiring the nuclear isotope to
be produced on a nearly continuous basis.

The world's supply of Mo-99 is generated primarily from the
irradiation of enriched-uranium targets in only five research
reactors around the world. They are the National Research
Universal (NRU) reactor in Canada, the High Flux Reactor
(HFR) in The Netherlands, the BR2 reactor in Belgium, the
OSIRIS reactor in France, and the SAFARI-1 reactor in South
Africa. The world's two largest production reactors, the NRU
and HFR, have experienced technical difficulties and
shutdowns over the past two years that have caused severe
global Mo-99 supply shortages and serious impacts to the
global medical community. During periods of shortage, an
estimated 85 percent of U.S. medical facilities have been
forced to ration and cancel many critical diagnostic
treatments.

On May 14, 2009, the volatility of the Mo-99 supply was
further exacerbated when a heavy water leak in the main
containment vessel of the NRU reactor was discovered,
requiring the shutdown of the facility for an extended period
of time that continues today. Despite intensive efforts to
restore production, it was announced in August 2009 that the
reactor will not resume operations until at least April 2010.
In addition, the HFR reactor will be experiencing a 25-week
maintenance shutdown scheduled to begin in February 2010.
Because the NRU will not resume operations by the time the
HFR reactor is scheduled to shut down, the availability of
this important medical isotope will hit critically low levels.

The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development's
Nuclear Energy Agency hosts a High Level Working Group on the
Security of Supply of Medical Radioisotopes (OECD-NEA
HLG-MR). This international working group seeks to engage
commercial producers and industry groups to promote efficient
coordination and management of the production and use of
Mo-99. The United States and is a member of the OECD-NEA
HLG-MR.

At the facility level, existing large-scale global producers
of Mo-99 in Belgium, France, and South Africa have also been
working to coordinate their operating schedules and increase
production plans to help mitigate the expected supply
shortages. This increased coordination is expected to lessen
the impact of the expected shortfall. Nevertheless, the
supply availability even under the most optimized production
schedules among the remaining global producers is still
expected to be no greater than 50 percent of normal if the
NRU does not resume operations in April as expected. Crucial
medical diagnostic procedures all over the world will be
canceled, delayed, or prescribed using often less-effective
alternative diagnostic procedures.

The efforts to irradiate targets at the MARIA reactor,
combined with the remaining global producers optimizing their
respective operating schedules, are expected to reduce the
expected supply shortage of this critical medical isotope in
2010.

END TEXT OF NONPAPER

--------------------------------------------- ---------
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT'S SCIENCE ADVISOR TO GERMANY
--------------------------------------------- ---------

10. (SBU) Begin Text of Letter to Germany (for reference only)

The United States and the world depend primarily on the
operation of five nuclear reactors for the production of
molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), a critical medical isotope used in
approximately 80,000 nuclear medical diagnostic procedures
every day around the globe. To ensure the stable supply of
Mo-99, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and
Development's Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD-NEA) has been
working to engage commercial producers and industry groups
internationally in promoting efficient coordination and
management of Mo-99 production and use through its High Level
Working Group on the Security of Supply of Medical
Radioisotopes (HLG-MR). The United States fully support the
OECD-NEA and its HLG-MR efforts. As a new participant member
of the OECD-NEA HLG-MR, Germany is to be commended for
demonstrating a strong commitment to securing the supply of
this important medical isotope.

The United States is concerned about the supply of Mo-99
during the impending four-to-six-month maintenance shutdown
of the HFR reactor in The Netherlands, and the
still-uncertain restart of the NRU reactor in Canada.
Beginning in March 2010, the world's supply of this important
isotope is expected to be drastically reduced unless other
existing global suppliers can find alternative means of
production during this time.

One promising alternative to produce Mo-99 during this
expected shortage is to utilize the MARIA reactor in Poland
to irradiate the targets used to manufacture this isotope,
and subsequently the processing facilities in Belgium to
provide a supply to the world's medical community. This
option would require the transit of irradiated targets
through Germany. If this alternative could be implemented
during the maintenance shutdown of the HFR reactor, the
supply shortage of this critical medical isotope would be
significantly reduced.

I would like to request your assistance in working within
your government to help secure the regulatory approval for
the transit of such medical-isotope production targets
through Germany for this purpose.

If you would like to discuss these considerations further, I
would be happy to arrange for a meeting among our respective
government experts at a mutually convenient time.

Sincerely,

John P. Holdren
Director
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Executive Office of the President of the United States

End Text of Letter to Germany.

-----------------
POINTS OF CONTACT
-----------------

11. (U) Department thanks Post for its assistance in this
matter. Main points of contact for these efforts are:
DOE/NNSA/NA-21 ) Dr. Parrish Staples (202-586-4042,
Parrish.Staples@nnsa.doe.gov) and OSTP ) Dr. Tammy Taylor
(202-456-6086, ttaylor@ostp.eop.gov). Department POCs are
Dr. Dan Fenstermacher and Dr. Zaira Nazario (ISN/NESS,
202-647-2833, fensteda@state.gov, and 202-647-8829,
nazariozd@state.gov).
CLINTON

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