February 4, 2006

Bush to propose Russia nuclear partnership: paper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will
propose funding for the creation of an atomic energy
partnership with Russia in his upcoming fiscal 2007 budget,
according to the New York Times.

The proposal would involve having the United States and
Russia provide nuclear reactor fuel to other countries for use
in generating nuclear power, the newspaper reported on
Saturday. The spent fuel would be taken back to prevent its use
in weapons.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.

The report offered new details about an initiative the
administration has said it is working on to create an
international framework to deal with expanded use of nuclear
power both at home and abroad.

The administration, in its fiscal 2007 budget to be
released on Monday, is expected to call for spending $250
million on research to develop new ways to reprocess the
nuclear fuel so it would be difficult to use the plutonium in
nuclear weapons.

Reprocessing, which separates uranium and plutonium from
spent fuel so the elements could be used further, is a
technology abandoned by the United States decades ago as a
costly security risk.

Some in the administration see promise in new separation
technology that would make it harder to use its plutonium
byproduct in nuclear weapons.

The technology is controversial and some experts believe a
resumption of reprocessing would heighten risks that
weapons-making material could fall into the hands of militants.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted by Interfax on
Tuesday as saying he was interested in the creation of a
network of nuclear fuel cycle centers to enrich uranium for use
in other countries that want to access it for nuclear energy