Russia rejects G-7 concern over nuclear regulatory body

Russia has dismissed Group of Seven (G-7) major nations’ concern over its preparations to review laws to diminish the power of an independent nuclear regulatory body (GAN), Kyodo News reports. Russia has sent documents on its stand to the Nuclear Safety Working Group of nuclear experts of the G-7 nations, which will study the documents and decide what to do.

According to the sources of Kyodo News, it is possible the G-7 nations -– Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – will reiterate their concern to Russia in the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Genoa, Italy, in July. In the documents, Russia rejected G-7 concern by claiming the law amendment is to confirm Russia’s principle of putting priority on safety in the use of nuclear energy.

In December, the G-7 nuclear safety group sent the Russian government a letter expressing concern over the plan, saying it violates a 1996 international treaty that seeks to separate government functions in nuclear power policy.

The State Duma, lower house of the Russian parliament, is about to consider a bill calling to amend the Law on Application of Atomic Energy. The bill suggests transfer of licensing functions from the ‘regulatory agencies’ to the ‘managing agencies’. In other words, the right to licence civilian nuclear related activities will be passed over from GAN to Ministry for Nuclear Energy, should the bill be voted for.

The bill was authored by Robert Nigmatulin, Duma member and brother of deputy nuclear minister, Bulat Nigmatulin. Observers believe the bill will strip GAN of all the influence on the nuclear agency and turn the nuclear regulation back to the pre-Chernobyl era. The chances for the amendment bill not to pass the vote in the Duma ‘approximate zero’.

GAN was deprived its responsibility to regulate the nuclear component of the Russian Navy in 1993. Governmental decree of June 20th 2000 stripped GAN of the right to license military related nuclear activities of Minatom.