No further nuclear barter trade between Russia and Ukraine

This year the remaining stocks of nuclear warheads will be shipped from Ukraine to Russia. After the separation of Ukraine from the Russian Federation in the beginning of the ‘nineties, the agreement was reached on delivering nuclear fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants in exchange for the nuclear warheads. From now on, Ukraine will have to pay for the fuel. The estimated annual cost is some 300 million USD.

Ukraine operates 5 nuclear power plants, with 13 VVER-1000 reactors and one RBMK-1000 reactor. Five additional reactor installations of VVER-1000 type are under construction.

Meanwhile, there are reasons to believe that the Ministry of Atomic Energy of Russia generously will accept delays in the payment from Ukraine. As stated by Minatom minister Victor Mikhailov during his visit to Ukraine in the first part of August, Russia would not stop the fuel delivery even if Ukraine does not pay the bills. The fuel would rather be lent to the country.

On the other hand, according to the governor of Krasnoyarsk county, the Krasnoyarsk-26 spent fuel storage facility will no longer accept spent fuel from Ukrainian VVER-1000s. The debt of Ukraine for the year 1996, letting alone previous years, has reached 2.73 million USD. It won’t be a big surprise if this conflict between Russia and the Ukraine will be handled by Minatom in the same generous way.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no