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Friday, July 21, 2006

Russia: Future Nuclear Waste Capital of the World

FOX News, among many others, is reporting:

Russia Wants to Store Nuclear Waste
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin is maneuvering to take the nuclear waste the rest of the world shuns, hoping for a financial bonanza _ and President Bush, in a reversal of U.S. policy, is offering to help.

The two countries will announce as part of the upcoming G-8 summit that they will begin negotiations on a civilian nuclear agreement that would clear the way for Putin to achieve one of his top energy goals: expanding his country's power reactors and using Russia's vast territory as a storehouse for the world's used reactor fuel.

A majority of the spent reactor fuel now at power plants _ especially in such countries as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan _ came from the United States and can't be shipped anywhere without U.S. approval.

The United States has civilian nuclear agreements with nearly two dozen countries, including China, but it has opposed negotiating one with Russia, mainly because Russia has been helping Iran develop its nuclear energy program.

While U.S. officials have emphasized the desire to increase cooperation with Russia on civilian nuclear matters, some major hurdles must be overcome before an agreement can be reached, including assurances that any U.S.-origin waste that would go to Russia will be secure and safe.

Given that Russia has the world's largest territory, La Russophobe guesses that it makes sense for Russia to become the world's nuclear garbage dump. And it may well be an effective way to keep the Chinese from grabbing Siberia to laden it down with hazardous atomic contamination that makes it unfit for human habitation. However, La Russophobe has got to wonder whether Vladimir Putin's ardent desire to receive the world's nuclear garbage doesn't perhaps give the lie to any notion that Russia is rolling in cash and on the verge of returning to "world power" status. However, the near total absence of popular protest against this decision may indicate that the Russian people are getting precisely what they deserve.

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