Posted By Joshua Keating Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 2:56 PM
The U.S. is reportedly in talks with Mongolia about the country setting up an international repository for nuclear waste, reports National Journal:
U.S. Energy Department officials and their counterparts in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, are in the early stages of discussion and there has been no determination yet about whether to proceed with the idea, according to Richard Stratford, who directs the State Department's Nuclear Energy, Safety and Security Office.
Speaking at the biennial Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, Stratford said a spent-fuel depot in the region could be of particular value to Taiwan and South Korea, which use nuclear power but have few options when it comes to disposing of atomic waste.
"If Mongolia were to do that, I think that would be a very positive step forward in terms of internationalizing spent-fuel storage," he said during a panel discussion on nuclear cooperation agreements. "My Taiwan and South Korean colleagues have a really difficult time with spent fuel. And if there really was an international storage depot, which I have always supported, then that would help to solve their problem."
Stratford is Washington's lead envoy for nuclear trade pacts, which are sometimes called "123 agreements" after the section of the Atomic Energy Act that governs them.
The United States provides fresh uranium rods to selected trade partners in Asia, including South Korea and Taiwan. For Mongolia to accept and store U.S.-origin spent fuel from these or other nations would require Washington to first negotiate a nuclear trade agreement with Ulaanbaatar.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had advocated for Russia to take on a similar role a few years ago, but the plan never got off the ground. If Mongolia were to embrace YIMBYism, it would certainly be a welcome development for its Asian neighbors, and a nuclear trade agreement with the U.S. could help kick-start the country's own power industry. Naturally, questions about proliferation risks are going to come up. And in light of the past month's events, one can't help but remember that the region is not exactly immune from earthquakes.
accessed: April 3rd, 2011