G8 leaders eye int’l centers for nuclear fuel cycle
Kohei Murayama, Kyodo News, Mar 15
Group of Eight leaders will endorse Moscow’s initiative to establish centers for international nuclear fuel cycle services in their July 15-17 summit, according to a draft joint document released Wednesday.
During the annual summit being held this year in St. Petersburg, Russia, the G8 leaders will also call for increasing the use of nuclear energy, boosting investment for stable oil and gas supply, and promoting global cooperation to deal with terrorist attacks on energy facilities, says a leaked copy of the “Global Energy Security” joint statement and action plan.
First reported by Britain’s Financial Times newspaper Tuesday, the draft was obtained and widely circulated by Oil Change International, a U.S. clean energy activist group. It is dated March 6 and is for release July 16 by the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
Energy security is one of this year’s major issues, following up on the Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development joint statement and action plan the G8 leaders issued last year at their summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
But the draft document shows the G8 leaders will focus primarily on stable fossil fuel supply and stronger nuclear energy commitments over climate change and environmental programs, as host Russia has narrowed the theme of this year’s summit down to energy security — a move environmental scientists and activists have strongly criticized.
It will be the first time Russia chairs and hosts the top G8 gathering.
“We believe that the development of nuclear energy would promote the global energy security,” the draft says. “It must be based on assuring nuclear nonproliferation regime, safety and security of nuclear materials, enhancing nuclear and environmental safety, improving economic competitiveness, and further reducing the risks associated with its development.”
Against this backdrop, the G8 leaders “welcome the initiative put forward by Russia to establish international centers providing nuclear fuel cycle services under the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) control,” the draft says.
The initiative is aimed at preventing countries from obtaining nuclear technology to produce their own plutonium, uranium and nuclear material that could be used to develop weapons.
The draft says such centers should provide cycle services, including uranium enrichment and spent nuclear fuel management, and assure training and certification of nuclear energy specialists.
Russia recently proposed such a formula to Iran in a bid to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program.
The G8 leaders will call for the “development and introduction of innovative nuclear power systems with natural safety barriers, which exclude the possibility of nuclear material and technology use for arms production purposes, and meet all current nuclear and environmental safety requirements,” the draft says.
The draft also cites “innovative nuclear power systems based on closed nuclear fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors and international fuel centers” as a “virtually inexhaustible energy source” in the future.
The draft says the G8 leaders “expect oil and gas to continue to dominate global energy markets in the foreseeable future,” and calls for boosting investment for stable supply.
“Significant investment resources are needed to create an efficient and shock-proof system of global energy supply,” the draft says, citing a $17 trillion estimate for the period through 2030 with developing countries claiming “half of that sum.”
Among many other projects, the draft says investment is needed to increase the efficiency of oil and gas production through the development of continental shelf resources, expanding and improving the efficiency of production capacity of oil-refining, petrochemical and gas processing industries, and introducing “clean coal” technology.
“We are confident that development of new economically viable transportation routes and diversification of the geographical sources of their supply as well as markets, lead to reducing risks associated with ensuring energy security both for individual countries and the international community as whole,” the draft says.
The draft calls it “critically important” to promote international cooperation “in view of possible terrorist and pirate attacks against key facilities and elements of the energy infrastructure,” including nuclear power plants, pipelines, terminals, transmissions nodes and tankers.