Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Deposits at the Fuel Bank

The IAEA approves a fuel bank:

The fuel bank would offer nations civilian atomic reactor fuel on an apolitical basis in hopes of deterring them from pursuing their own capability to produce such material -- a process that could also generate nuclear-weapon fuel.

Essentially, it does this by providing enriched uranium when there is a disruption in the commercial supply. The idea is that this limits proliferation opportunities because the host country will not do the enrichment itself.

Naturally, there are still a lot of details to work out:

Undecided aspects of the plan include the site of the fuel supply, the precise process by which the bank could acquire additional fuel and how its capacity could be increased.

This story goes into more details of Warren Buffett’s involvement, which was considerable:

"Throughout my lifetime I will be interested in this subject and I will back that interest up with money," Buffett told Reuters. "If the project sounds like a good one and has any real chance of reducing the probabilities of the terrible use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, I'm prepared to put up significant money."

And he did back it up with money - $50 million worth, matched by the United States and other countries, with Kuwait’s $10 million kicking the total over the necessary $150 million to get started.

The Washington Post was not able to get a response from the Obama administration (though it’s known to want it), but did weigh in with a quote from former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative:

"This is a breakthrough in global cooperation to enable peaceful uses of nuclear energy while reducing the risks of proliferation and catastrophic terrorism."

Indeed it is. Much more to come about this.

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I didn’t know what to think:

The [chair of the] Kuwaiti National Committee for Utilizing Nuclear Power for Peaceful Purposes, Dr. Ahmad Bushara, said "Kuwait seeks to build four 1,000 MW nuclear power plants, to produce electricity, by January 2011."

Well, that’s ambitious, since ground hasn’t been broken for the first plant yet. But Dr. Bushara, perhaps badly translated or perhaps just a victim of a typo, means that the committee wants to get the ball rolling then.

He added, that by 2013, Kuwait will go out on bidding for its first nuclear project and launch its first nuclear power plant by 2020-2022.

That’s more like it.

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We’ve followed the German struggles with keeping its nuclear plants open with both amusement and dismay. Amusement because the Germans are complaining despite being in a very good place – safe nuclear plants, a good head start on meeting carbon emission reduction targets – and dismay because the government dithered so long that it led to people protesting against their own best interest.

Others have the same attitude:

Putin recognized that "the German public does not like the nuclear power industry for some reason." He continued: "But I cannot understand what fuel you will take for heating. You do not want gas, you do not develop the nuclear power industry, so you will heat with firewood?" Putin then noted, "You will have to go to Siberia to buy the firewood there," as Europeans "do not even have firewood."

Putin is, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin, showing he can bring his customary bluntness to any situation. Russia has a bad habit of turning off the natural gas spigot to the West, so there’s that. But when he’s right, he’s right.

1 comment:

Isaac said...

Putin is the Russian Prime Minister now. Dmitry Medvedev is the Russian President.