Inter-Parliamentary Working Group

Publish date: October 10, 2002

was organized by Bellona Foundation in Brussels in February 1998 to address issues in nuclear clean-up co-operation that require political attention. Russian State Duma representatives and representatives of the European parliament met together to share their views on nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel (SNF) management problems. They focused on the Vienna’s Convention on nuclear liability and on resolving the problem of tax exemption for equipment supplied to the Russian Federation free of charge. It was also mentioned that the problems of nuclear waste and SNF are international, and as a result they made a decision to establish an Inter-parliamentary Working Group (whose members would rotate after elections) to discuss general problems and work out team decisions.

The second IPWG meeting about problems of nuclear waste and SNF management held in June 1999 in Washington D.C., USA. It was organized by Bellona Foundation with support of the American governmental bodies — Department of Defence, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency — and industrial companies.

Members of the State Duma of the Russian Federation (S. Sulakshin, V. Tetelmin, V. Grishin and others), Deputy Minister of National Regional Politics of Russia V. Goman, representative of Defence Ministry of Russia Rear-Admiral N. Jurasov, representatives of Industry (V. Ruksha — general director of Murmansk Shipping Company), representatives of Russia’s Ministry for Nuclear Energy, US Congressman C. Weldon, Department of Defence Understate Secretary S. Goodman, representative of the USA State Department C. Kessler, Deputy Minister of Foreign Duties of Norway A. Haga, member of Norwegian parliament E. Solheim, European Parliament members assistants participated in the second meeting.

The participants paid their attention on passing a law of the Russian Federation about tax exemption for technical assistance. On the meeting they shared their views about Russian and world processes, connected with SNF and nuclear waste management. They discussed matters of cooperation between the USA and European countries with Russia on the projects aimed at tackling the problems of nuclear safety in the north-west of Russia, priorities in Russian politics for the nearest time. They planned methods of standardization for making decisions of these matters in the USA, Europe and Russia, taking into account existing differences.

The third meeting held in Washington D.C., USA, in March 2000, after the Congress elections in the USA and the State Duma elections in Russia. The purpose of that meeting was to renew activity of IPWG after the elections and to establish working contacts between State Duma members and American Congress. They continued discussing problems of the Russian Federation joining to the London Convention, ratification of the Vienna Convention. The progress was noted that the tax exemption question has been largely resolved.

The participant of the previous meeting — Deputy Minister of National Regional Politics, V. Goman, was the head of the Russian Delegation. Russian State Duma members: V. Luntsevich, A. Gurov, A. Nikolaev and others, Russian Defence Ministry Rear-Admiral N. Jurasov, general director of Murmansk Shipping Company V .Ruksha, high ranking representatives from the US Congress, US Administration, countries of the European Union union and Norway took part in that meeting.

New IPWG structure was offered by Bellona in Brussels for monitoring of the Russian Federation activity in importation of SNF. The focus of the new IPWG was also to boost nuclear clean-up projects in Russia. The constituent assembly held in Brussels in June 2002. State Duma member S. Mitrokhin (Yabloko faction) and EU Parliament member Bart Staes (Chairman of the EU Delegation to Russia) were elected to co-chair the new IPWG.

It was proposed there to have a field IPWG conference in Murmansk region. One of the previous IPWG meeting organizers, Duma member V. Luntsevich took upon himself co-ordination of efforts to prepare the conference in Murmansk region.

The aim of the IPWG meeting in Murmansk Region, which took place on October 4th and 5th, was to discuss the perspective funding to Russia to solve problems of nuclear safety, as well as to get familiar with the issues on site.

European countries pledged more than 100 million euro on July 9th 2002, including 62 million for decommission of nuclear powered submarines, SNF and nuclear waste management in the north-western Russia. One of the most serious barriers that slows down the release of financing even for the projects of great importance and priority is the absence of MNEPR agreement.

The main tasks of the IPWG meeting in Murmansk Region

    1. To prepare an appeal to the Government of the Russian Federation from Murmansk region, State Duma members about the necessity to sign MNEPR agreement.

    2. To introduce the scope of the issue to European Parliament to ensure further political support in the EU for clean up projects in north-western Russia.