On the 31st of May, 2016, the press conference «Ten Years of the Initiative by the President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin to establish the International Uranium Enrichment Center (IUEC)» was hold as a part of the VIII International Forum ATOMEXPO 2016.
The following persons took part in the press-conference: Nikolay Spasskiy, Deputy CEO for International Relations, ROSATOM; Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA; Areg Galstyan, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Republic of Armenia; Alexander Rybchuk, Director of a separated division, NAEK Atomproektengineering (Ukraine); Ludmila Zalimskaya, Director General, JSC TENEX; Alexey Lebedev, Director General, JSC IUEC; Alexey Grigoriev, Senior Vice-President for strategy and marketing, JSC TVEL, Director General of JSC IUEC (2007-2010) and Chairman of the Board of Directors (2010-2011).
In the beginning of his presentation Nikolay Spasskiy emphasized the importance of the «event, which changed very seriously our vision of securing reliability and safety of supplies within the nuclear fuel cycle». He noted that «the main task of the Center is to ensure equal access to the uranium enrichment capacities for the organizations - participants of the Center from the States that are not developing on its territory the enrichment capabilities». Nikolay Spasskiy tald on the principles of the Fuel Bank established under the aegis of the IUEC. «The mechanism was quite simple and clear, that in fact gave the confidence in the reliability of its functioning. Russia officially receives the notification from the IAEA Director General after that the necessary licenses are to be arranged automatically and the delivery of the nuclear material requested by the IAEA is performed via the city of St-Petersburg. The reserve of material is stored in our territory but not we, but the IAEA only makes the decision to whom to deliver, otherwise there would be not trust to the system. The most important thing is that the mechanism fully built on the automatism». For the six years since the establishment of the Bank, «there was not a single failure, all clearly worked. There were enormous fluctuations of the political environment, difficulties in our relations with the West and, in spite of all of this, the stock remains in Angarsk under the control of the IAEA, and continues to be a real and very serious additional stabilizing factor in the world market of nuclear fuel». According to the Deputy CEO of ROSATOM, «Fukushima accident slowed the refinement of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, but this work is ongoing and it is essential that the basic elements of this structure, born from on the initiative of the Russian President a decade ago, namely international centers and international fuel banks proved to be very successful and well-consumed».
Mikhail Chudakov outlined the importance of the IUEC Fuel Bank for the nuclear embarking countries. He said that currently about 30 the IAEA member-countries are seriously considering the possibility of developing of its own nuclear power programs and create the necessary infrastructure. There is no own enrichment capacities in such countries and therefore they «should be confident in tomorrow, know for sure that nuclear fuel for their NPPs will be always available». The IAEA Deputy Director General also pointed out that the IUEC Fuel Bank was the first one and remains to date the only one really, physically existing the Bank of low-enriched uranium. But the more such mechanisms of guaranteed access to nuclear fuel over the world will exist, the better. Together these mechanisms will create the system outlined in the initiative by the President of the Russian Federation.
This year marks the 40 years from the day of the first start-up of the nuclear power unit in Armenia. Areg Galstyan in his statement confirmed the intention of the Republic of Armenia to maintain and develop nuclear energy. In particular, the activities on the lifetime extension of the existing VVER-440 unit for additional 10 years are performed in close cooperation with the ROSATOM (scheduled to be completed by 2019). In that connection, he emphasized the importance of participation in the Republic of Armenia in the IUEC, as a country that does not have its own nuclear fuel.
According to Alexander Rybchuk, the IUEC initiative combines detailed policy framework, as set forth in the provisions of the intergovernmental agreement on the establishment of the Center, and reliable commercial arrangements for providing the countries concerned with goods and services of the nuclear fuel cycle. «We purchased annually 60 000 EPP, that is equal approximately to half of refueling of 1 GW reactor». He stated that the cooperation continues in 2016 . «The parties are now finalizing the procedures for the signature of the relevant contract».
TENEX stood at the origins of the establishment of the IUEC. Ludmila Zalimskaya stressed that this project is a successful example of how international political initiative was implemented using commercial mechanisms. She gave high assessment to the role and achievements of the IUEC General Director Alexey Lebedev in the development of the company.
Alexey Lebedev reminded the participants of the two major tasks of the IUEC. The first is ensuring guaranteed access to the Russian capacities mostly for its shareholders that allows providing an alternative to the creation of its own enrichment facilities. The second is the performance of functions of the authorized organization to ensure the operational management by the Fuel Bank of the insurance mechanism for the IAEA member-countries, which were denied in the deliverables due to political reasons. In June 2015 the IUEC warehouse site, where the Fuel Bank is located, was visited by the IAEA Director General Yukio Amano, who noted the effectiveness of this mechanism and the high level of technology and safety ensured by the IUEC.
Alexey Grigoriev drew attention to the limitations of the package of the IUEC shares that can be distributed between the parties: 50%+1 share should remain in the Russian Federation and 30% have already been distributed. In that respect he invited the foreign partners to join the IUEC, while such a possibility is still open to them.