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Russia to take used nuclear fuel out of Uzbekistan

2 January 2015

Russia will soon take the highly enriched used nuclear fuel out of Uzbekistan, a representative of the Uzbek government told Trend.

The used nuclear fuel, also called the spent nuclear fuel, is a nuclear fuel that was irradiated in a nuclear reactor.

The source told Trend that an intergovernmental agreement was signed by Uzbekistan and Russia in April 2014, stipulating the return of the Russian-made highly enriched used nuclear fuel to Russia for its further processing.

The nuclear fuel will be taken out of the Uzbek research reactor IIN-ZM as an UO2SO4 solution. The highly enriched used nuclear fuel will be taken to Russia for temporary storage and its subsequent processing.

Russian Federal Assembly's lower house the State Duma and its upper house the Federation Council passed a law on ratification of the mentioned agreement in December 2014. The law was then signed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Currently, Uzbekistan has highly enriched irradiated liquid nuclear fuel in its reactor IIN-ZM of the enterprise FOTON, near the country's capital of Tashkent.

Some 30 liters of the used nuclear fuel contains about 5,000 grams of 90-percent enriched uranium.

The reactor, its equipment and fuel were manufactured by the enterprises of the Ministry of Medium Machine-Building Industry of the USSR.

The reactor was commissioned in 1975. Since 2012, Uzbekistan has been developing a plan for decommissioning of the IIN ZM reactor.

However, the country has no conditions to meet the required standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to store the liquid fuel.

In 2012, Uzbekistan and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement to cooperate in taking the irradiated nuclear fuel of research reactors to Russia.

Following the implementation of the agreement, Uzbekistan will no more have highly enriched nuclear fuel.

Under the document, the irradiated fuel from the research reactors in Uzbekistan will be taken to Russia for disposal and replacing with low-enriched fuel, and then will be consequently returned to Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.