U.S. and Russia Ready Civilian Nuclear Deal
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Mr. MATTHEW BUNN (Senior Research Associate, Managing the Atom Project, Harvard University) Good morning.
MONTAGNE: The U.S. has long opposed Russian involvement in what you might call the nuclear power business. Why this reversal in policy now?
BUNN: Second, because Russia can only make billions of dollars importing U.S. origin spent fuel - if it gets the U.S. okay - that gives us a lot of leverage, which might be used to convince Russia to support a tougher stance on Iran or to convince Russia to set aside a portion of the revenue to beef up nuclear safety and security for their huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials, so they can't be stolen by terrorists.
MONTAGNE: And, as you say, Russia stands to gain billions of dollars to sort of be in this business of taking in this spent fuel. But what are the risks?
BUNN: All of those are important issues that are going to have to be addressed in negotiations that will only begin at the G8 Summit, not end there.
MONTAGNE: Well, just briefly, you suggested that the change in Bush administration policy coincides with Russia's cooperation in seeking curbs on Iran's nuclear program. Could this change in policy give leverage on the Iran problem to the U.S.?
BUNN: I think it's potentially a lot of leverage. There's billions of dollars that Russia can potentially make by importing spent fuel, importing other materials that it can't import without this kind of agreement with the United States. So I think there may be a lot of leverage for convincing Russia to follow a policy that we consider more desirable.
MONTAGNE: Thanks very much for talking with us.
BUNN: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: Matthew Bunn is a nuclear specialist at Harvard University.
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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
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