Multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle:
Problems & Prospects for Non-Proliferation
and Assurance of fuel supply
Dr Abdelwahab Biad
University of Rouen
France
Multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle :
Problems & Prospects
for Non-Proliferation and Assurance of fuel supply

Main challenges:
-> Problem of the inherent dual use of nuclear energy.
-> Prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons
-> Issue of access to enrichment and reprocessing
-> Needs for assurance of fuel supply
-> Managment of trade of nuclear fuel and services
-> Issue of state sovereignty on nuclear fuel cycle
-> Verification & control mechanisms
Multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle :
Problems & Prospects
for Non-Proliferation and Assurance of fuel supply
MNFC would lead to at least two desirable consequences:

1. A contribution to enhanced supply assurance, which
would increase the stability and confidence of States
deciding to engage in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

2. Positive non-proliferation and confidence-building effects
with regard to important parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.
History of MNFC (1)

1946-1950: Baruch Plan & Acheson-Lilienthal Report

1953: Atom for Peace

1957: IAEA

1957: EURATOM
History(2)

1975-1977 : IAEA Study on Regional Centres for nuclear fuel cycle.

1978-1982 : IAEA Expert Group on International Plutonium Storage.

1980-1987 : IAEA Committee on Assurances of Supply (CAS).

2005: IAEA Expert Group Study on Multilateral Approaches to the
Nuclear Fuel Cycle.
MNFC
3 options

Assurance of fuel supply.

National enrichment plans to be converted to multinational plan.

Global & multinational enrichment facilities.
Assurance of fuel supply (1):
supplier guarantees

World Nuclear Association proposal for ensuring security of supply— collective
guarantees of supply of uranium enrichment services provided by nuclear industry and
supported by governments and the IAEA.

Six-country concept—assurances of supply of uranium enrichment services provided
by supplier states and supported by the IAEA.

Japanese standby arrangements proposal—assurances of supply of all front-end
fuel-cycle services.

UK nuclear fuel assurance proposal—assurances of supply of uranium enrichment
services provided by supplier governments through guaranteed export licenses.
Assurance of fuel supply (2):
LEU banks

US LEU reserve—a nationally controlled reserve of LEU as a backup to an
international assurance supply mechanism.

Russian guaranteed LEU reserve—an IAEA-safeguarded and controlled reserve of
120t of LEU in Angarsk provided and maintained by the Russian Federation.

IAEA LEU bank—an LEU reserve owned and managed by the IAEA.
Multilateral uranium enrichment facility
proposals

International Uranium Enrichment Centre—a multinational uranium enrichment
centre in Russia under IAEA safeguards with no access to enrichment technology by
stakeholders.

Multilateral enrichment sanctuary project (Germany)—an IAEA-controlled
international uranium enrichment plant in an extraterritorial area with no access to
technology by stakeholders.

Gulf Cooperation Council multinational nuclear consortium— an international
uranium enrichment consortium for the Middle East that could be based in a neutral
country outside the region with no access to enrichment technology by stakeholders.
Global multilateral infrastructure proposals

Russian Global Nuclear Power Infrastructure—a system of international centres
providing fuel-cycle services on a non-discriminatory basis and under IAEA control.

US Global Nuclear Energy Partnership—the full spectrum of front-end and back-end
services provided by a limited number of supplier states using new proliferationresistant technologies.

Austrian proposal on multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle—a multilateral
framework of supervision of all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Progress in practical implementation

Today we see greater progress in the direction of the practical implementation of
multilateral fuel-cycle arrangements than during the 1970s and 1980s.

Four proposals for multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle are in various
stages of implementation:
1-> the Russian International Uranium Enrichment Center (IUEC).
2-> the Russian guaranteed low-enriched uranium (LEU) reserve.
3-> the IAEA LEU bank.
4-> the United Kingdom’s nuclear fuel assurance proposal.
Achievements (1)
The International Uranium Enrichment Center

The IUEC was established in 2007 in Angarsk (Irkoutsk Siberia).

Three states—Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine—are IUEC stockholders.

Four proposals for multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle are in various
stages of implementation.

The IUEC provides its partners with guaranteed access to enriched uranium
product or a share in profits.
Achievements (2)
The Russian guaranteed LEU reserve

IAEA Board of Governors adopted resolution GOV/2009/81 of 27 November 2009,
authorizing the Russian Federation to establish a guaranteed LEU reserve.

The world’s first multilateral reserve of LEU inaugurated on 17 December 2010.

LEU reserve for supply to state members of the IAEA experiencing a disruption in
supply of LEU for nuclear power plants not related to technical or commercial
considerations.

120 tons of LEU.

Under IAEA supervision.
Achievements (3)
IAEA LEU bank

IAEA Board of Governors adopted resolution GOV/2010/70 of 3 December 2010,
approving the creation of an IAEA LEU bank.
Achievements (4)
The United Kingdom’s nuclear fuel assurance proposal

The UK’s nuclear fuel assurance proposal is designed to enhance confidence in
commercial fuel supplies.

The proposal envisions agreements between a supplier state and a non-supplier state,
that commercial LEU supply contracts will not be disrupted for any non-commercial
reason other than those directly related to nuclear non-proliferation concerns.

The process would be overseen by the IAEA.

On 10 March 2011 the IAEA Board of Governors voted in favor of the proposal.
Prospects

Despite few successes, the future of multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle is
unclear.

The idea of multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle has received support from many
governments, particularly of supplier states, but not all of them.

However, the policies of leading supplier states towards MNFC are uncoordinated and
subject to change.

At this point, a coordinated strategy for multilateralization does not exist.
Problems

No technology holder has expressed any inclination to seriously discuss the conversion
of their national fuel-cycle facilities into multilateral operations - such conversion have
never been seriously discussed at the national or international level.

Opponents of conversion of national fuel-cycle facilities argue that this would involve
too many complex political, legal and financial issues.

Nuclear suppliers should understand that existing nationally controlled enrichment and
reprocessing facilities do create a discrimination problem.

Their existence makes it more difficult to convince other states not to pursue nationally
controlled facilities of their own.

Lack of confidence among some non-nuclear states (fear of “nuclear cartel”)
Questions

How can “equality” and “non discrimination” be achieved in MNFC?

Can MNFC efficiently contribute to solutions of nuclear non-proliferation challenges?

Would MNFC be better pursued at regional level ?

Can the MNFC contribute to the revival of the nuclear trade?

Is MNFC an incentive for states to give up their inalienable right to develop national
enrichment and reprocessing capabilities?
Obstacles

The tension between supplier and non-supplier states on the issue of multilateral
approaches.

Commercial competition among nuclear industry companies.

Gap in development and expertise on the use of nuclear energy.

Risk of Proliferation and regional conflicts in Middle East and North East Asia.

The public fears about nuclear energy following the nuclear incident at the Fukushima
Daiichi power plant (March 2011) where many safety measures failed. The nuclear
incident make Japan & Germany abandoned plans to expand nuclear power

Unresolved challenges in the long-term management of nuclear waste.
Challenges that the international community faces

To find a way to manage the global nuclear fuel cycle in order to reduce proliferation
risks to acceptable levels.

To provide all states with non-discriminatory access to peaceful applications of nuclear
technology.

To build a broad coalition of states - both supplier and non-supplier - supporting a
politically and economically attractive strategy towards multilateralization of the
nuclear fuel cycle.

To ensure a reliable supply of electricity and to reduce threats to energy security.

To remove certain roadblocks to nuclear disarmament.
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Multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle: Problems & Prospects for