The upcoming meeting of the Interparliamentarian Working Group (IPWG) is drawing a meeting-room-busting crowd. Participants from the Russian, U.S., Norwegian and European Union parliaments will be joined on January 25-26 by international administration officials and industry representatives to continue the discussions on nuclear waste management in Northwest Russia Bellona initiated in Brussels last February.
About a dozen elected officials will address the meeting, the second in an ongoing series, in the venerable halls of the National Academy of Sciences and the Woodrow Wilson Center. They are joined by officials from the State Department, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Defense Department from the United States. Foreign Ministry officials from Finland and Norway will contribute together with officials from both the Russian Navy and the Russian Academy of Science. Also present is a group of private companies from both US and Russia eager to participate in international nuclear waste cleanup projects in Northwest Russia.
Both number and the high level of participants indicate that nuclear waste remains a key issue between Russia and its Western partners in the EU, Norway and the United States. Both sides understand that regardless of policy differences in various fields, the long-term management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in the Arctic is of global interest and requires an international approach.
The IPWG aims at bringing together international officials to remove political roadblocks in an area where consensus exists about the nature of the problems and the general direction approaches to resolve them must take.
In the first meeting in February 1998 in Brussels, the IPWG was formally created with Norwegian, Russian and EU participation. Since then, U.S. Members of Congress have joined.